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As I wrote last week, 2022 was the year I resolved to get back to all the things that made me happy before I was anyone's Mom -- reading, writing, and horseback riding.

One of my three goals, the simplest of them all, was to read 52 works of fiction by the end of the year. Reading has always been one of the ways I find it easiest to recharge my "ME" in the face of all of the "THEM" in the world, but after the kids came along, and life got super busy, sitting and reading for myself, with myself, just felt too ... luxurious? lazy? wasteful?

There was laundry to do! Playdates to organize! Doctor's visits to coordinate, school volunteering to do ...

Well, screw all that.

2022 was the year of reminding myself that Mom has to put her oxygen mask on first if she's going to keep anyone else alive, so I'm happy to report that as of today, December 28, 2022, I have managed to find/make the time to read 35 novels since January!

Here's a list of the books I liked best:

I am pleased with myself, though I didn't quite hit my target of reading 52 novels in 2022.

Ah well. 35 works of fiction read is nothing to sneeze at.

Here are the strategies I used to read more fiction this year:

I automated book delivery

I signed up for the Imaginary Friends and the Signed First Edition Clubs at Skylight Books in Los Angeles. They sent me a book each month from each club.

I also gifted myself a year's subscription to the quarterly Strand Fiction Box.

And I became a Friend of the LA Review of Books, and signed up for Audible so I could "read" on the road, too.

There were tons of benefits to automating my book-buying, the first being enormous time savings (lazy afternoons in bookstores are just not part of my life right now). The second benefit was the thrill of unboxing the books as they arrived at my house, and the third, most wonderful thing, was getting exposed to novels I might never have chosen myself.

In fact, of my favorite books of the year, I only chose one for myself -- HAMNET -- and I read it on the Libby app. (Have you seen the Libby app? It's amazing. It searches libraries and delivers books to your phone and kindle -- and it's a great way to get books sent to you for free.)

I tracked my reading on Goodreads

Do you use Goodreads? I use it mostly to keep records of what I'm reading, or what I want to read. Making a "Want To Read" list is especially useful for those miraculous moments when I do have ten minutes to run into a bookstore, or when I'm gearing up for a long road trip and want to load up Audible, or I'm traveling with my Kindle instead of a stack of novels, so I'm loading up the Libby app.

I calendared my reading time, and I always carried a book with me

I made an effort to read a physical book, on paper, for at least 30 minutes before bed each night, which helped wean me off my Instagram-before-bed addiction, and helped me sleep more deeply than I had in years. I also always carried a paperback or book of short stories in my purse, that I could dip in and out of when I was sitting in a doctor's waiting room or killing time anywhere else. Towards the end of the year, I made sure to always have a book cued up in the car, on Audible, too.

I had so much fun reading this year that I am going bake it into 2023, too.

2023 is the year that I am going SIMPLIFY, SUPERCHARGE, and RECONNECT -- and reading absolutely satisfies the goals of SUPERCHARGING and RECONNECTING.


I'm excited to announce I'm launching a 2023 Book Club here on the site.

I'm still percolating over the parameters of this project -- will we do a monthly Zoom, or Instagram whatever? Or just chat about the books here? Who knows. I guess we'll feel it out as we go along.

But I really am going to try to read a book each week, so buckle in!

(And no, you are not expected to keep up with that. I set myself silly challenges sometimes.)

I do hope you will dip your toe in, though. Sign up below to receive announcements of the weekly-ish book choices, and short reviews, and other books-related things, too.

Last year on my birthday I took myself to breakfast so I could have some time to reflect on the past and coming years. I was a little bit blue -- and it wasn't just the ongoing COVID epidemic, or my worry about the climate crisis, or the gun violence epidemic, or the sorry state of local politics here in Los Angeles. I was feeling disconnected from myself, so I asked myself the following question:

What did I love to do, when I was 12 years old and had basically no real responsibilities or burdens beside school and family?

Here's what I came up with:



Horseback riding

Here's what I realized:

I hadn't been doing any of those things in years, and I wanted and needed to do all of them to be truly happy.

Before I paid the bill for my delicious breakfast -- eggs boiled in polenta, YUM -- I had made a plan to fold writing, reading, and riding back into my life in 2022.

Here's how all of that went:


I had been kicking around a novel in the back of my head for months and months -- so I set a goal to write 300 words a day on my novel, longhand, in an effort to write with the freedom I'd had as a twelve year old kid writing poems all day long. I found it easy to fit that kind of goal into my every day routine -- 300 words is about 2 notebook pages, and took me about 15 minutes a day. When my real job began to get so nuts I couldn't find those 15 minutes, I started waking up an hour before my kids each day to write during that "magic hour," and it was magic. Even when I didn't love the words I wrote, I loved having that quiet time to myself each day, and those quiet hours helped generate a lot of other ideas I'm pursuing today, too. One year later, I've written 50,000 words on my novel, and hope to have a first draft done in early 2023, with an eye toward completing a stronger, second draft in the later part of the year.


I set a goal to read 52 novels this year. As of today, I have read 35, so I'm a little short, but that's still dozens of books more than I have read in recent years! I started a list of books I wanted to read on Goodreads at my birthday breakfast, and headed straight to the bookstore to buy the first book on the list. Then I signed up for book subscription boxes from the Strand Bookstore in New York, Skylight Books in Los Angeles, and Los Angeles Review of Books. Every month new and wonderful novels I might not have stumbled upon myself arrived at home -- what a joy! I made time to actually read them by reading every day for about half an hour before bed. I also signed up for Audible, and got more books "read" while sitting in traffic, commuting for my real job. I will absolutely be repeating all of these things in 2023!


I have been horseback riding in a casual way since I was five years old, and my aunt took me for my first riding lesson. I got my first horse when I was 12, and am a competent all-around English and Western rider. I've cut cows, barrel-raced, and trained as a hunter/jumper and a dressage rider, too. Over the last 35 years I've owned half a dozen horses, but in the last 10 or so, hadn't had much time in the saddle. Work and family took up too much time and space, and I couldn't manage the expense of keeping a horse fulltime. On my birthday last year, I owned an ancient pony who was basically a lawn ornament, and a seven-year old mare I'd bought on a whim as a newborn, never had time for, and only a few months earlier, listed for sale. But at my birthday breakfast, I realized I was paying just as much to feed and board my mare in Colorado as it would cost to have her with me in Los Angeles, where I would actually get to see and ride her everyday. It wouldn't be cheap, but either is therapy or a gym membership -- and for me, horses are both. By the end of lunch I'd called my trainer friend who was caring for the pony and the mare in Colorado and told him she was no longer for sale, and I called a trainer friend of mine in Burbank and said I was bringing a horse in. That afternoon, my Burbank trainer friend and I were picking out a stall. Three weeks later, my horse arrived, and I can honestly say that going to the barn each day has been the highlight of this year. My horse, Birdie, is a dream. We get along great, we are madly in love, and I'm cantering around the arena like a kid. I can't wait to see what Birdie and I accomplish next year.

All this to say:

2022 has been mostly delightful, from my point of view. I have worked like crazy, I have managed our home and our kids, we have faced challenging medical diagnoses and dental conundrums, and all manner of general chaos, but I have been mostly over-the-moon happy overall, because I am finding time to feed the writing/reading/riding me that has been starved for so many years.

I've been married 18 years, and a Mom for nearly 16 years, and I say with great authority I have never been a better wife or mother than I have been this year, because I put my oxygen mask on first.

I am taking all the joys of my 2022 forward into next year, and adding new layers of joy, too.

Here's what I'm vision-ing out for next year:


Super-charging our life.

Reconnecting to friends and family, outside of the hell-scape of social media.

The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep from Birth to Age 5 by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack. I have a video of myself, enormously pregnant and on bedrbed restest with Diddy, this book in hand, saying to my husband, "We are not doing this. Who would let their baby cry themselves to sleep? That's terrible!" Fast forward a few months and I was giving copies of this book to every new parent in our lives. Fast forward a few years and I heard a woman running a baby group tell all those new moms that sleep training was cruelty on par with leaving babies in Russian orphanages to fend for themselves with cuddles or warm coats and I got so angry I nearly got her fired.

Seriously. Save your sanity. Get this book.

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Raising Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D. My father saw this book reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and sent it to me before our kids were born. Fast-forward 15 years and our kids can handle disappointment and even maybe learn a little bit from screwing up or falling short. It can be really hard not to jump in and fix everything for your kids, but this book is a big part of the reason why my kids can advocate for themselves when they have to and for allowing us all to maintain healthy emotional boundaries that will keep them from hating me someday. (We live in hope ;))

The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD This is the follow-up to "Happiest Baby on the Block," but I think it's a more useful book because toddlers are impossible and this book is serious about taming their inner beasts using "natural consequences" rather than getting into constant fights with tiny little people whose brains don't work as well as they should yet. For the same reason, I found this book very useful for managing my relationship with Mr. Big Ideas. That might sound like a joke. It's really not.

The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler This book is chock-o-block of systems and checklists, and I adore all of it. This book is why we hold family meetings and helped us figure out how to handle allowance. It's also the reason all my kids started doing their own laundry when they turned 8, doing the dishes by 9, and can all keep themselves alive in the kitchen, too. I'm pleased with my little army. My mother, who did everything for us recently remarked, "Your house is every man for himself." She's in her seventies stand ill cleaning up after people, so personally, I think Bruce Feiler wins on this point.

What are your favorite parenting books? Let me know!

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