What I Might Read in 2020

I recently told a friend that I’ve never loved reading and books as much as I do right now in this phase of my life. And I was surprised, after I heard myself say it, at how true it was!

I’ve always gone through phases where I’m really into movies and not into tv. Or I’m really into music and can’t be bothered to read anything. For a long time it was podcasts but I’ve even cut down on those quite a bit–only still subscribed to my number one favorites (My Favorite Murder and What Should I Read Next for those who must know). Right now I’m reading. All the time. I’m loving it. Audiobooks have filled in the space left behind by all those podcasts. The only new music I know about is Harry Styles’ most recent album (which I’m in love with). I’m loving this phase!

It’s a good phase to be in, too, because in addition to the local Project Lit meetings that I attend each month, I’m also taking on a new role as a virtual book club leader as a part of my second job. I’m excited to be joining my two great loves (books and personal empowerment) to lead this group in conversations about both!

In addition to all of the reading for those two things, I also have some personal reading goals. I hope to exceed my Goodreads reading goal of 30 books (which may sound like a whole lot to some people and hardly any at all to others–I have a friend whose goal is 100!!), and I’d really like to follow Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2020 reading challenge!

I thought it would be fun to make a list of the books that I might be reading in order to meet all these criteria and what better way to take note of it than right here?
Important note: I don’t do well with assigned reading. There’s no quicker way to get me uninterested in a book than to assign it, so I’m not holding myself to this list by any means. 

Also, I’ll provide links to all the books that I’m able. I’m linking them toTwice Told Tales’ shop on Libro.fm. It’s an audiobook service that works to support individual, independent bookstores instead of Amazon.


Here’s a look at the categories for the Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge:

71f6DRbcrsLA book published in the decade you were born:
Wild Seed by Octavia Butler or maybe The Color Purple by Alice Walker which I can not believe I’ve never read, before.

A debut novel:
I have no doubt that this one will be easy since I love me a debut novel. I’ve already got my hands on Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey and also Remembrance by Rita Woods.
But then I also just learned about Djin Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara and now I really, really want to read that.

A book recommended by a source you trust:
A1+-unICxaLMy good friend Annie has been telling me to read A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel for years, now. I trust her judgement implicitly. I will read this book.
I have another delightfully bookish friend, Dawn, who recommended Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski and I would really like to get my hands on that one. The sooner the better tbh.

A book by a local author:
I’ve decided to define “local” as an author who is–or was, a fellow Kansan. I’ve always loved Langston Hughes and we have a copy of his debut novel, Not Without Laughter here at the store. I’ve always wanted to dig into it–perhaps this will be our year.

A book outside your (genre) comfort zone:
9781534467491_p0_v2_s550x406I know exactly what I’ll be reading for this one. Neal Shusterman’s Scythe. YA in general isn’t my favorite genre but being a part of the Project Lit community is easing me away from that. But Science Fiction or… whatever you can call this… is not my general cup of tea. I also hate reading books in a series–even though I totally understand that is not a genre, it’s still a strike against it. This is the February book selection for Project Lit Mac and so I know I’ll be reading this one. Who knows! Maybe I’ll love it! I hope I do.
Another genre that I’ve never, ever explored is westerns. And we sell so many at my store! If I read a Don Coldsmith book, it’ll tick off a box in this category as well as the Local Author category as well (he’s from Iola)! Two birds. One stone. I don’t know if it works that way though.

A book in translation:
81ijZfOrYlLI think I might try my hand at Us Against You by Fredrik Backman. I read Beartown a few years ago–actually, exactly at the same time as the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and there was just so much of that book that echoed exactly what was going on during that real-life mess. I was sucked into it but I have GOT to tell you, I had to put that story down for a long while.
I’ve also heard a lot about The Time In Between from the What Should I Read Next podcast. It’s got everything! The Spanish Civil War, fashion, romance, espionage.

A book nominated for an award in 2020:
Know My Name by Chanel Miller has been on my radar for a few weeks, now. I was so pissed off by the Brock Turner case that I’m excited to learn more about Chanel, instead.
Also, The Topeka School by Ben Lerner is on my phone right now, just waiting to be read. Both of these titles were nominated for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award.

A re-read:
9780671003753_p0_v2_s1200x630I never re-read. I have never re-read any book ever before. There are so many books! Why re-read?! That being said, I’d love to revisit She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb to see if I love it as much as I did when I was 25. I remember feeling like Wally Lamb wrote women beautifully and somehow he really understood what it was like to be a fat woman in particular. I’m curious to see if I still feel the same way with my newer perspectives.

A classic you didn’t read in school: So. Many. So very many. For the record, I have a tendency to really hate classics.
I kind of want to see what A Christmas Carol is all about.
I’ve also never read anything by Madeline L’Engele. Isn’t that wild? I think I’d love to explore her stuff.

Three books by the same author:
I think this might be the year that I want to read a lot, a lot more from Octavia Butler. Reading three books from her in 2020 will actually knock out several of these categories all at once! But also, I sincerely doubt I’ll be able to take on that much science fiction. And this is a category that I would really like to stick to. So, when I think about authors that I want to explore more, here are a few that come to mind:
Jasmine Gillory
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Barbara Kingsolver


Are there any reading lists you’re looking to fill? Any books you’re hoping to add to your “read” list?
If you want to follow me on Goodreads, here’s a link!

-Libby

July Things

Here’s a list of some of the things at the front of my mind for the past month. What have you been reading, thinking about, buying, enjoying??

Kansas Friends: the Primary Election is in one week! Who are you voting for? Here’s a link to a sample ballot so that you can research everyone before you hit the voting booth!

So, I made a declaration that as a Fat Activist, I don’t want to spend my money at or advertise for clothing stores that don’t serve sizes larger than what I wear. Because what good is this work if I’m only here to help myself? Anyway, after I made that announcement on Instagram I was really nervous that I just limited all my clothing options even further than they already are. And I did but it’s okay.
THE NEXT DAY Soncy launched!! It feels like a dream come true, really. There’s a new kid on the plus sized retailer block that I’m very excited about. Let me show you the things I want so badly!
This dress.
This jacket (for my pin collection!).
And I love this sweater. I bet it will be really fun for those cozy, work from home winter days.
Quality plus size clothing isn’t cheap and fall and winter are a comin’ so if you feel so led, feel free to make a donation to that paypal. 😉

Oh, other clothing that’s good for the fats? FGF Basics. I think one of each of the raglan t’s and perfect t’s will carry me through the changing seasons quite nicely.

I was so psyched to get to see the whole #planebae saga going down in real time on Instagram Stories. I was that kid ferociously refreshing Rosey’s Instagram feed and quickly searching for a place to charge my phone.
Yeah, it does bring up issues of ethics and privacy and there’s certainly room for those conversations. I know I, for one, would not like to have my flight experience documented and posted to the internet. So, if you completely remove the humanity of those involved, it’s a very sweet story.

Another thing that I would love for the world to let me have: these cookies. As an act of self-care, I decided that I should make these cookies because I knew that I had a lot of sprinkles in my kitchen. Things that, it turns out, I did not have: eggs, butter, milk, sugar, or flour. So I just put on a face mask and watched Johnathan Van Ness’ Instagram account.

Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande’s song Dance To This has been my favorite in July! But you know what’s better than that song and music video? The music video that was recreated with lil baby kids!! AH!

Speaking of music, Ryan surprised me with tickets to see Band of Horses last weekend! We don’t really have a song but we definitely have a band. That fateful day that Ryan came to my house to ask me to be his girlfriend, I was listening to Infinite Arms and Cease to Begin on repeat. We probably listened to those albums at least twice each during the course of our conversation and ensuing make-out session.

Anyway, here’s a pic of me and Ryan with his brother Joshua and our friend Karley at the show!

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Image description: Libby is in charge of taking a selfie that gets four people in the frame. It’s dark and grainy but it’s happy!

I got this lip gloss from Winky Lux in my last Birchbox. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do! I see myself ordering a lot more from Winky Lux in the future [affiliate links].

Oh yeah, and if you want to sign up for Birchbox, here, use my link! (Make sure that when you sign up for goods and services, check with your friends to see if they have a referral code. It blesses everyone!)

A friend sent me a copy of Landwhale and even though I’ve been in a reading slump, I devoured it in two days. It felt really good and got me back into reading just in time to get into Homegoing for our August book club pick!

Other places I could be found on the internet in July:

I was interviewed for Paper Magazine about the new Netflix original, Insatiable. I’m really excited that people are actually talking about this and I was also really excited to be counted among such hard working people in the Fat Activism community!

My friend J has the best little YouTube channel called Comfy Fat and Ryan and I are featured in their vlog! Go check us out. It was soooooo fun to get to spend time with J and Corissa and I can not WAIT to hang out again. Go follow J on YouTube and Instagram.

5 Things That Are Making Me Happy Right Now

We went on vacation at the end of January and when we came home I was nervous that I’d fall into the whole “everything in my house is lame because it’s not as fun as when we were on vacation” rut. You know what I mean? So I started doing this gratitude challenge on my Instagram stories. I set an alert in my phone to go off every night to remind myself to think about the ways I’m #blessed on purpose.

And then I got the flu and that job was hard because when you have the flu you don’t have the energy to be grateful BUT you also don’t have the energy to hate everything around you. You just lay on the couch and wait for time to do its job to either kill you or heal you while you stare at the ceiling and wonder about exactly nothing. So while it wasn’t a step back, it wasn’t exactly a step forward either. Bonus: when you’re finally well, gratitude is at an all time high!

Now, look, I’mactually not the kind of person who thinks that you have to be happy all of the time. I’m usually the kind of person who sees those gratitude posts in November all over Facebook–you know the ones, right? And rolls my damn eyes and scrolls on because some days I just can not be bothered by everything that’s going right in Susan’s life. Okay? Haha! But also… I bet it makes Susan feel really great to be intentional about that stuff and if she needs it, she needs it. That’s why I scroll on and don’t, you know, leave a comment that says, “No one cares, Susan!!” I feel bad for Susans out there. If your name is Susan and you’re reading this–it’s not directed at you. I just plucked a name out of the thin air. Sorry, Susan!

So, sometimes we do have to dig deep and talk about the big and small things that are keeping us alive right now. So here we are in the deepest, darkest depths of bleak winter, making lists of five things that are making us happy. Ready? You do it, too, if you want to.


  1. My New Balance [affiliate] sneakers. Ryan surprised me with them. I had seen them in the store window, went in and tried them on, found out the price and then told Ryan all about them, knowing that I wasn’t really going to buy them.  I just wanted a little taste of them. I almost never ever buy shoes. Especially at full price. Because of that, I have some really embarrassing cross trainers in my closet. Rather than bring those with me on vacation, Ryan came home from work one night with these under his arm to surprise me. I love a gift that intersects at the point of romance and practicality. And these shoes go with everything. Very handy.
  2. Reading Who Thought This Was a Good Idea [affiliate] by Alyssa Mastromonaco. I’ve been hearing about this book for months, now. It always sounded interesting and when it came to looking for something to read on the plane, it sounded perfect for me. Not something that required too much deep attention but something that was light hearted. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with the idea that it was a good plane read because my neighbor across the aisle was reading the exact same book!
    Mastromonaco tells really funny and exciting stories about working in Obama’s White House. I definitely recommend it.
  3. Cozy, hyggee scarf/ blanket. This one [affiliate] is nearly identical to the one that I bought on clearance at ModCloth at the beginning of the year. Under my coat, it has brought softness and comfort into these most harsh days of winter. I love adding it to my typical leggings+tunic uniform on warmer or at-home days. I’m a very tactile person so just wrapping up in it makes me instantly more happy.
  4. Searching for new recipes after being sick and only eating toast and applesauce. There’s still a lot of food that doesn’t appeal to me but I’m really interested in this recipe for Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple that I found in my most recent issue of Bon Appetit. Ryan and I have also been interested in trying our hands at making potstickers from scratch, sometime. I think we might use this recipe from Half-Baked Harvest and make an at-home date night of it? Eat some potstickers, watch a little Alpine Skiing? Ooh lala. Romance.
  5. Stepping out of my comfort zone has been huge for me this month (and, if we’re being honest, my horoscope told me it would be). I’ve found myself stepping into insecure spaces to say my peace or advocate for myself or someone else, recently. It’s a practice that I am grateful for even if it does require so much energy to do it. But here’s the thing–we think that stepping out of our comfort zone means stepping into a place of uncertainty or fear. But that’s not it at all. Or, rather, it doesn’t have to be that. We’re stepping into a place of vulnerability. A place where our faith is the only thing holding us steady. And that, my friends, is a great place to be.

What sorts of things have you been grateful for lately? Big or small, celebrate them. It’s important.

XOXO, Lib

April Things

Full disclosure: some of these links may click through an affiliate site and while it won’t cost you anything extra, I may get paid if you make a purchase. Thank you for supporting brands that help support me. If you’d rather not use affiliate links, that’s okay. Don’t feel pressured.

I started Dia&Co this month! I got my first shipment, and did an unboxing on my Instagram stories (and if I do say so myself, you guys loved it). It was so fun and I had no idea that I liked being on camera that much. I’ll film all of my unboxings from now on just because it’s fun and because you guys seem to really love it, too.  I’m here to serve you.
Use my affiliate link and you might get a little something something for signing up (though I make no promises on that because I’m a little unclear on what your benefits would be–just keeping it real, you guys).

I picked up this book. I grabbed it from Bluebird Books in Hutchinson because I was looking for a spring-y memoir. And also because I am a huge sucker for those little book-review cards that they scatter around the store to tell you “someone who works here has read this and they love it”!
Also, reminder, the Virtual Book Club is reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! We’re spreading it out over two months, though, because we didn’t realize how long it is and how busy we all are.

I realize that Easter is over but check out Tieghan’s GORGEOUS Easter brunch menu. I love her site so much–she makes everything look easy and so, so drool-worthy.

Try Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial What are you listening to? I’m into this brand new Father John Misty album, Pure Comedy. Also I’m jamming on the new John Mayer album as I write this.

Rhubarb is in season! I’m making a batch of rhubarb liqueur right now. Just chop up a bunch of rhubarb, fill a large jar and then add 2 cups of powdered sugar and 500 ml cheap vodka. Keep it on the counter. Shake it every day for 4 weeks and then you’ve got yourself a delicious mixer. I thought about adding ginger in there with it but decided to keep it pure. I’m going to be adding it to ginger beer though, for sure. Maybe a rhubarb mule type situation? What would you do? I can’t wait to play around with it.
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Kalene did an incredible two-week series called Doers and Makers. My favorite part was all the writing she did and the way that she connected the work other people are doing to what’s going on in her own life. It was so personal and so exciting. She collected all of her writing and photos (and a write up about me, even!) in one place right here.
Also, earlier this week she did a huge giveaway that featured a painting done by yours truly. I’ve been getting a few commissions for paintings, lately, and it’s really exciting to me.

Fat Girl Flow is showing us that plus size people can rock miniskirts.

Tsh Oxenreider has a brand new book out (I loved Tales from a Blue Bike)

And finally: I’ve been trying to make sure that I’m advertising with more fair-trade and ethically practicing businesses. So take a look at my side bar and go check out some cool websites. I’m super pumped about GlobeIn. I think that it’s a great place for wedding gifts–since we’ve officially entered wedding season. Plus: a subscription service!

What’s new with you this month? I want to hear all about it. Do you have a bunch of weddings to attend this spring/ summer?

XOXO, Lib

Things I’ve written this month:
You Don’t Need More Balance in Your Life
Digging for Truth in Rubble
I’ve Found My Why

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Holiday Gift Guides: For the Readers in Your World

This post includes affiliate links–I will be compensated if you make a purchase through any of the links in this post. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to support XOXO, Lib.

Through the month of December, I’ll be posting a weekly gift guide! This week, we’re talking books.

My husband and I managed to actually get Christmas gifts for every single one of our nieces and nephews (of which there are 13 and one on the way). I don’t know if we’ll always be able to pull this off (the number is just growing and growing, you guys!) but we managed it this year. And since there are so many of them and because the love and passion for reading is deep in our veins—obviously we got books for each and every kid. Picking out books for these kids… was SO MUCH FUN!

And so it got me thinking about all the books that I would buy for everyone else in my life if I had unlimited funding. Drawing inspiration from real people in my life, I came up with some ideas! So, hey, maybe there’s someone on your list that matches someone on this list?
And if they don’t, have I raved about the Book of The Month Club yet? Your recipient will always get to choose whatever book they happen to be in the mood for and they’ll get to think of you every month! Check it out.

Continue reading “Holiday Gift Guides: For the Readers in Your World”