What I’m Into – May

Where did May go? Didn’t the month just start? It was a pretty good month and as usual, I’m sad to see it go. June will bring with it more summer goodness. Here’s some things I was into this month. Connecting with the lovely Leigh (check out my favorite post of her’s this month. Made me want to hit the road and head to Nashville stat) and the What I’m Into link-up.

What I’m Reading:
Last month I read a lot of books that didn’t connect with me. Some weren’t great or were good but generally just weren’t my thing. I looked at my goodreads ratings for last month. It was all threes and fours. Suddenly I understood why I felt a little burnt out. At the beginning of May, I accidentally devoured a book that I fell in love with. That’s when I remembered why reading books you’re passionate about is so important. It reminds me why I love to read in the first place.

-Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (5/5). An anthology of notes from the Dear Sugar column Cheryl used to write for the website The Rumpus. I loved this book. It spoke to my soul and freed me. I know this book and her advice are not for everyone. But I found the questions and the answers immensely freeing & good for my soul. I love how much of her own stories Cheryl (as Sugar) included in her responses.
-Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (4/5). I love this series of books by Steph.This particular volume in the series wasn’t my favorite. I definitely preferred Isla’s story (which comes after Lola’s). It was a little tropey and very teenage protagonist. That said, it was a (mostly) light and cute read for me, which is what I wanted.
-Find the Good by Heather Lende (5/5). I picked this up on a whim from the popular reads section of the library and loved it. A short collections of essays on life and death from an obit writer in Alaska. These stories were good for my soul.
-Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson (2/5). The back cover sounded interesting: destiny brings a man and woman together as they’re held up at a gas station. But between the characters (both very wounded and unstable) and the unclear flashing between past and present, I couldn’t take it. Halfway through the novel, I nearly gave up because I couldn’t find myself rooting for either of the main characters. I pushed through but still, didn’t like it. Nothing hurts my heart like being disappointed in a book. Sometimes it’s just not a good match for you.
-In the Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (5/5). This book took me by surprise in the best way. Rory, a Louisiana native, comes to boarding school outside of London when a Jack the Ripper imitator is beginning to strike. I’d hesitated at picking this up before but I’m so glad I did. The story picks up about 1/4 of the way in and it’s hard to put down! I requested books two and three…three came first and I haven’t been able to pick up book two yet! Excited to start book two next week.

This month I hit my preliminary reading goal of 50 books! Woohoo! I moved my goodreads challenge up to 75 books. I’d like to read more than that but since I’m not sure what the rest of the year will bring me, I’m going easy on the number. Currently I’ve read 55 books for the year.

On the to-read stack: If You find this Letter by Hannah Brencher, The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker and If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski.

Audience participation: I have a question for you. What does it take for you to not finish a book? Is there a page limit? Do you push on through and just finish? Is there certain content that will make you stop? I’m curious about what you think.

What I’m Listening to:
-Mumford and Sons, Wilder Mind. Yes and please. Don’t get me wrong I miss those banjos like whoa. But their lyrics still connect to my soul.
-Jon Foreman, Caroline. I think I’m really going to enjoy his next musical series The Wonderlands.
-Joy Williams, Until the Levee and What a Good Woman Does. Joy is bringing the soul stirring lyrics to her debut. If I can’t have my beloved Civil Wars back, this is the best runner up.

What Podcasts I’m Listening to:
-Joy the Baker podcast.
-Dear Sugar. Always and forever. The episode about friendship this month nearly brought me to tears. I love the Sugars.

What I’m Watching:
-Once Upon a Time. Alternate Universe (AU) storyline? Yes. I loved this episode so much. I had a feeling I’d enjoy the AU, but not as much as I did. I’d watch a mini-series of these characters in the AU realm. Of course I’m still feeling the ending (that’s as much of a spoiler as I’ll say) and I don’t know how I’m going to make it til Fall.

Other things I loved this month:
-Early morning walks on the beach during our Mother’s Day trip.
-Catching up conversations with a friend.
-Ordering a box of new books I’m excited to read.
-Finding a gift card in an older box and discovering it still had a full balance! That made my box of books order even better.
-Sitting in the new airport cell lot, which is right near one of the runways. Sitting in the car and getting to watch planes take off or land. Dream come true. ❤
-Finding out one of my favorite authors, Allie Brosh, has a new book coming out in October!

Instagram:
-Beachgram. One of those few summery things I got into. But goodness morning walks with your feet in the water are glorious.

beach view

Here’s to a glorious June of warm sun, cool breezes and lots of cool treats. To summer reads and good things, both planned and unexpected.

An Ode to The Civil Wars

Today The Civil Wars officially called it quits, ending a two year hiatus and putting a period on a beautiful career as a duo. This is a very sad day for the fans who fell in love with their music. Not to mention the duo themselves. It was a quite a ride.

I remember when I first fell in love with the duo and their music. I was following Joy’s now dufunct blog. She had been teasing a new project she was working on with someone. Then in February 2009 she uploaded a blurry youtube video of her covering Dance Me to the End of Love with a Johnny Depp look-a-like playing guitar and matching her harmonies. I must have listened to that cover hundreds of times after it was released. There was something magical about the way their voices matched together. It was just their voices and the guitar, but that was enough. I was hooked.

The next month, they released another video. This time, it was of an original song they had written called Falling. This duo was something very special. Even with a low quality video, their passion showed through and their voices shined. Those two beginning videos are still some of my favorites. And I actually prefer those versions of the two songs over the recorded ones. I suppose that’s because that is when I first fell in love with them. They gained traction over time, preforming their first concert at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta, GA. From that first concert came a live album, which recently released on vinyl. For a long time, it was available for download on noisetrade, even after their large success.

They released a small EP called Poison and Wine. I think Poison and Wine is one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard, the deepest kind of love. It was that song and the accompanying video that connected with so many. “I don’t love you, but I always will.” I connected with the their words, with the feelings embedded in that story. It was my favorite song, on repeat for two years. The music video is still one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.

They released their first album Barton Hallow in 2010. It was acclaimed by so many and propelled them forward, as they hit morning news shows, late night and everywhere in between. It made its way onto best-of lists for the year and was nominated for many awards. It was crazy to see these two, whose video I had fallen for, now becoming a nation wide, then world wide hit. But that is a testament to the kind of music they had. It connected with audiences, by word of mouth of friends.

They continued to get bigger and bigger, touring it seemed non-stop. They were in the middle of a European tour when they suddenly decided to cancel and take time off for their remaining tour dates. Sadly, a date I was going to was on the chopping block as well. I never got to see them perform live, which is so very sad. I’ve heard from others that they had an amazing energy in concert, that they brought out the best in one another.

For as long as the band existed, there were always jokes that with a name like The Civil Wars, things were destined for failure. And if that didn’t turn out to be true. But that is the nature of life itself. The unexpected happens. And sometimes, it cannot be mended completely. No matter how much time and work, it doesn’t work the way we want.

In the midst of my own crazy two years, I waited with bated breath, hoping this amazing duo could work things out. That their beautiful music could continue. It wasn’t meant to be. It doesn’t mean that nothing can ever be mended, no matter how hard we work. But some things, some things need to be separated to heal.

Their final album showed the pain that they were in, in lyrics, in studio videos, in voices. But it still contained the beauty, the passion that made the band. I listened to it on preview, the week before it dropped. I hoped and prayed that this would not be the end for the band, with each song that poured through my speakers. Dust to Dust reminded me so much of Poison and Wine, that same longing, that same love.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Joy and to John Paul for the music they made together. This world is better because of their music. I wish them nothing but happiness in this next stage of their lives and careers. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this music. For the gift of loving it for the past five years. For the joy that it was brought me. It was not wasted. It means so much.