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131: 2020 Reading Challenge Check In

On this Unabridged episode, we consider where we are with our reading goals for the year, including how we're doing on the reading challenges we each selected back in January. We talk about the The Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge with @annebogel, Book Riot's 2020 Read Harder Challenge with @bookriot, and the Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge from @novelknight along with The Unread Shelf Project 2020 with @theunreadshelf. Want to listen to our original episode where we set our goals? Check it out here.

Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Laura Hankin’s Happy & You Know It - Sara's review will be published on Friday!

Jen - Marlon James’s The Book of Night Women

Our Reading Challenges

Want to hear what our goals and challenges were? Listen to episode 109 where we set our goals and chose our challenges.

Give Me One - Beach or Pool?

Other Mentions

@readwithtoni on Instagram and our episode with her

Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf

@definitelyra on Instagram and our episode with her

@laylafsaad on Instagram

John Steinbeck’s East of Eden

Marilynne Robinson’s novels (Gilead, Housekeeping, Jack, Lila, Home)

George M Johnson's All Boys Aren't Blue

Sandhya Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi

(A note to our readers: click on the hashtags above to see our other blog posts with the same hashtag.)

Interested in what else we're reading? Check out our Featured Books page.

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Sara 00:02

Hello and welcome to Unabridged. This is Episode 131: 2020 Reading Challenge Check-In. Today we are asking you to take a look at our website We are curating lists of books, with a Bookish Fave every Monday. We're doing Pub Day Shout-outs on Tuesdays, and we just have a ton of content out there that we really want you to take a look at and enjoy. We also are doing book reviews. So definitely check out our website. Before we get started with our discussion on our reading challenge check in, we want to start the way we start every episode with our Bookish Check-in. Ashley, what are you reading today?

Bookish Check In

book cover of Laura Hankin's Happy & You Know It

Ashley 01:20

So, one of the things I'm reading right now is Laura Hankin's Happy & You Know It, and this is one that I am really enjoying. I wasn't sure how I feel about it, but it is funny, it's fast moving, and it's also looking at a mom's playgroup in New York and a lot of them, all of them are traveling in an elite wealth circle, but they have varying degrees of access to wealth. And so there's a lot about pressure to stay in those groups and the money it takes to be able to do that and then also there is-- one of other angles is a musician who is being hired by the playgroup to come and play music to the children. And her storyline is just really fascinating. She was in a band and through a series of events basically gets kicked out of the band right before they have this huge success. And so then she's dealing with the aftermath of that and is integrating into this playgroup. And so I think it's really fascinating because I think it has a lot of really interesting commentary about the pressures of being a mom, what it is like to be a stay at home mom. It has a lot of commentary about social media, and the way that social media impacts mothers particularly, and all of that is really fascinating. And then, like I said about the musician, I mean, she is single, she doesn't have any children. And so Hankin it explores a lot about the different parts of being a woman and what that's like and then how women interact with each other. So that's really interesting. And again, that's Laura Hankin's Happy & You Know It and Sara, you read this one too?

Sara 03:06

Yes, I did. I read it and it moved really fast for me and I thought that the storyline was compelling and I thought that each of the women-- the way that the author presented them it was just really interesting, because even though they had certain things in common like you said, Ashley, the wealth and all that they still all had these unique personalities and I especially like the commentary about social media because I feel like that's a huge issue today for mothers trying to navigate feelings of inadequacy with their children and so I really like that too. Jen, what are you reading today?

book cover of Marlon James's The Book of Night Women

Jen 03:47

I am reading Marlon James's The Book of Night Women. I am reading this as part of a buddy read on Instagram with @readwithtoni, check out our episode if you haven't, and it is really fascinating. This is my second book by James, I also read Black Leopard, Red Wolf. And that is quite a challenging fantasy book. This is challenging in its own way. I'm about halfway through. It is about a woman named Lilith, who is born into slavery on a Jamaican plantation. And there's a lot that's still developing for being halfway through. I feel like he's put this big foundation in place. And some of it is still coming to fruition. But she is born into slavery and is sort of protected from that slavery for a while. She is not made to work in the house or in the plantation itself. And then her caretaker dies, and she's suddenly thrust into this part of her world that she was not really aware of. And so it's a really fascinating look at this girl who is coming of age and also suddenly realizing the life that she has been born into that she wasn't fully cognizant of before. And yeah, I don't want to say much more than that, because there's a lot still I'm not sure of. I have some ideas about where things are going. But I'm not at all positive that I'm right. It's brilliant. It is very difficult to read. But we are having some great discussions around it. There's a lot of complexity there. There's a lot of nuance in the characters. Lilith at times is very unlikable, and yet you have great sympathy for her plight, even when she's making choices against the other slaves that you think she should have more sympathy for. So, it's great.

Sara 05:34

I've heard great things about Marlon James's books. I just have never read one.

book cover of Marlon James's Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Jen 05:39

I will say I really enjoyed Black Leopard, Red Wolf. I read that one on a library deadline, which was probably not the best thing because it's hard. They are not easy books, both in content and he just really challenges himself style wise. Both of those books' styles are completely different. Both are quite challenging. They are definitely literary fiction. And so I wouldn't... this one is actually really fast moving for the way it's written. There's so much happening, but I would not call either an easy read, if that makes sense. So Sara, what are you reading?

Sara 06:16

I am reading Layla F. Saad's Me and White Supremacy. I've seen so many recommendations for this book. One recommendation was from Ruth Ann, who was on the podcast last November. And she said that this was a formative book for her, so I immediately got it because I trust her and her recommendations. And I've just seen a lot of people talking about Layla F. Saad, and her Instagram account is amazing, which we can link to in the show notes, because she just provides a lot of resources or things that I, trying to learn, can seek out. I'm really learning a lot in the book, and I'm not too far into it, but it reads very quickly, and she is just so intelligent and smart in the way that she presents the information. I'm learning so much. So, that is what I'm reading.

book cover of Layla F. Saad's Me and White Supremacy

Ashley 07:10

Yeah, I can't wait to read that one.

Jen 07:12

I bought that one on sale and I am very excited. I got a good deal, $1.99. And yeah, I am worried... Are you reading on a Kindle?

Sara 07:20

I'm reading on a Kindle.

Jen 07:22

And that's been okay? I was a little worried because I'd read a lot about the workbook style and I wasn't sure if it would work as an e-book.

Sara 07:28

So far, yes, it's fine. And I do like . . . there are things I like about reading on a Kindle. For one thing, I can read them if I'm laying with my kids while they're trying to go to sleep, but I also like the being able to highlight and go back to it as long as it works. I like that. So, I switch back and forth between whether I like Kindle or not, but so far, it's been a good experience.

Main Discussion - Read Challenge Check In

image of a book stack

Sara 07:53

Okay, so now we are going to go get right into our check in all about our Reading Challenge-- the ones that we set out in January that we were going to try to conquer this year. We're going to just check in and see how everyone is doing. So Ashley, how's it going?

Ashley 08:12

So, I am doing the Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge, and so she does 12 different things. I think that's right? Let's see... She has 10, but one of the 10 things that you're challenged to do over the course of the year, but one of them is three books by the same author. And so I am making some progress. I enjoyed figuring out what to do for each of the categories. That was something that was really interesting, and I think that it is an interesting way of challenging yourself because it's not just genre, but also things like a book in translation or one that is a reread or one that is published in the decade that you were born, and I just think that's an interesting way to access books, so it's encouraging you not just to read different genres, but also to read from different time periods or it includes something about a classic.

So I think that I like the challenge itself, and I like the plan that I have for it. However, I have only read three so far. And so I do have a ways to go, considering the fact that we are halfway, I'm nowhere near halfway on my goal. And one of the . . . I haven't gotten into the three by the same author yet. And so yeah, I think I really challenged myself with the choices that I made. And I feel sure that I can accomplish it over the course of the year, but I may have to make some adjustments about the things that I've chosen. So you know, I think like one that I was excited to start is John Steinbeck's East of Eden, but that is a very long book. And so I picked it up the other day and thought, "Oh, I'll get started on this." And then you know, it's just a major time investment. And so I'm, I'm thinking, I feel pretty confident at this point in the year, despite the fact that I'm not quite halfway, that I can meet the goals.

book cover of John Steinbeck's East of Eden

But I may have to make some adjustments about those choices and sub in things that I do want to read, but that maybe are a little bit, you know, there's just some of them that I think I can find something that's shorter. I mean, like the three books by the same author, I really want to do Marilynne Robinson, and I'm very interested in those. And hers are approachable as far as length, but there are other people that I'm already reading multiple books by, so I feel like I can, you know, I think I'm just gonna have to be gracious with myself about the things that I am reading that I think would count toward the goals. That's kind of where I am with it. But I mean, I'm enjoying it. I'm really glad to do it. This is the first time that I've tried a challenge. So I'm glad to have had a plan and for that plan to not just be, you know, looking at the books that I read each month, but also over the course of the year. I like that idea. I think I would do another challenge again in the future.

Jen 10:51

Mm hmm. That's great.

Sara 10:53

How about you, Jen? What are . . . what's your status?

book cover of N. K. Jemisin's The City We Became

Jen 10:57

Yeah, so I had set a couple of challenges for myself. So one of them, every year, I love to follow the Tournament of Books--I posted about that a lot on our website--and so I I have never made it through all of the books that were going to be in the Tournament of Books, so all of the bracket, and this year I almost met my goal. So there is there is a play-in round with three books, and of those three, only one makes it into the bracket, and I read two of the three. I did read the one that made it into the bracket. I didn't read one of them. So like, I can't call myself a completionist completely, but I almost made it, and now I am reading through . . . they do a Camp ToB over the summer. And the winner of that makes it into the Tournament of Books next year. I'm working through those right now, and they are, as always, great. I just read N. K. Jemisin's The City We Became, which was one of the choices, and that was phenomenal. I posted that review on the website. That's one that's one of my challenges.

Jen 11:59

Then I had set a challenge to read 20 backlist books at the end of last year, and I have read eight of those. So I'm doing okay, I've had to make some effort there because I am always drawn by the appeal of the new, and by ARCs, I haven't been doing as much library check out . . . checking out recently because our library is closed. I've done some ebooks, but I am still . . . the ARC, I went on the ARC request train a little too hard, and I'm a little overwhelmed by that right now. So I'm trying to make my way through those and get back to my backlist books.

Jen 12:36

The last one, this is the one I felt most challenged by. This is Book Riot's Read Harder 2020 Challenge. And I'm doing all right there too. So that one has 24 categories, and I have a spreadsheet for it, of course, and I have read 13 of the 24 and those a lot of those, I will be fair to my . . . yeah, fair and just say a lot of those are just accidental reads because I read pretty widely anyway, so I read a graphic memoir without even thinking about it. I read a YA nonfiction book because that's just something I read anyway, I read a book by or about a refugee because that's something I'm interested in. The ones I have left are going to require more effort. So read a picture book with a human main character from a marginalized community. Ashley, I'm coming to you for recommendations. Read a horror book published by an indie press. I don't know that I read any books from indie presses. These are ones I've had to do a little research and just I'm gonna have to work to fit them in, which is what a challenge is all about. Read a food book about a cuisine you've never tried before. Y'all know how I feel about food books. So I'm like, trying to sort of plan so that I can meet the challenge because these are definitely out of my comfort zone. Yeah, so those are . . . I think those are the three challenges I had. And yeah, I feel pretty good about them.

Sara 13:55

That sounds awesome. You all are burning it up and doing a great job.

Jen 14:01

I don't know that I'd go that far.

Ashley 14:03

I'm surviving over here. But I mean, I think, Jen, like you said about the just reading something and then marking it off, that there are ones . . . like I said, I kind of outlined what I wanted to read, but there are a lot of them that I've done that category, I haven't necessarily done the book that I chose for it. So I think thinking about that is interesting. And I do like that some of those are more obscure, because yeah, I think that's where you get into some really interesting territory.

Jen 14:30

Yeah, I mean, that's what I want with a challenge is . . . I do read widely, but I still have paths that I tread more often. And so I think that's what I want out of a challenge is to make me read something that is outside of my comfort zone. So I appreciate that. I just am not used to having to read for that kind of purpose. It'll be . . . Yeah, we'll see where we are by the end. Sara, how's your challenge going?

Sara 14:56

Well, okay, so when we started this I basically... because I know how slow of a reader I am and also because I'm not great with follow through on things like this, so I tried to give myself some grace and pick something that I felt like was doable for me which is the two challenges that I chose were Novel Knight's Beat the Backlist Challenge and then Whitney's The Unread Shelf 2020 project right. So the books I have read that have not been a requirement for the podcast have all been backlist books, which I'm happy about, and I have tackled some of my subscription box titles that have just been accumulating on my shelf, which I'm happy about.

Sara 15:48

I just have not been reading. I thought that I would get through more books this year and my reading has just taken a nose dive. I I find when I try to read, I read, and I read the words, but I'm not comprehending. So I'm doing a lot of rereading, and even with audiobooks, I just have not been able to get through. I just can't follow a narrative because my mind is wandering all the time, so it's been that I have followed my challenge in that I'm reading backlist when I can. But I have not gotten through a ton of books because I was really hoping to knock out a lot of the backlist books on my bookshelf, and that is just not occurring. With the requirements we have for --well, not requirements, but self-imposed requirements for the podcast and then other things, I just been able to plow through as much as I'd hoped. So I guess it's like mediocrity... I'm saying.

Jen 16:50

I mean, I think a lot of people are feeling that same... I've seen all over Bookstagram, people talking about the state of their reading, and I think... You know, there are waves of it as the news maybe gets a little cheerier, it becomes easier to read. And then the news will take a downturn, and then it becomes hard to focus again. I don't think you're alone.

Ashley 17:12

I don't either. And I've seen a lot of people say that they're doing a lot more audiobooks. And so... somebody said, "I just want somebody to read to me," and I thought that made a lot of sense. I mean, yeah. I can see that that... because that way, you still have to be able to pay attention, so I think that's hard.

Ashley 17:30

Like, for me, I'm doing less audiobooks, because I don't have my commute, and I don't have the places where I would normally listen, and it's really hard to do it. The times that I've tried to do it, I have a lot happening in my house, and so it's very hard to tune in to what's being said, but I mean, I think it is just trying to find ways to manage and just to, you know, keep on keeping on. I didn't count how many I've done for my backlist, but I have been working on that, too. And I haven't gotten anywhere near as far as far as I wanted to, but I have read a lot of the books that I borrowed from you all. So I'm happy that at least that... you know, I mean, it's like I kind of want to count those as my backlist, because they've been sitting there a long time. But technically they're not, you know, on my shelf, but it is books I've been wanting to get to. You know, I borrowed them because I wanted to read them, and so working through all that is challenging.

Ashley 18:21

We talked about that in January or in December... whenever we did the recording of talking about our goals. Last year, I went through and did the unread shelf and put them all -- what I thought was a reasonable amount -- put them all on my shelf. And then I think it was just really discouraging to get through the whole year and see that I had made very little progress on that because again, like you were saying, Sara, I mean, if you don't make an effort to get to your back list, you're never gonna get to it.

Sara 18:45

Yeah. And I kind of wish that when I started this challenge, I wish I would have picked 10 books or 6 books or some books, and said these are the backlist that I definitely want to read this year. So I feel like... When I chose this... I need something a little bit more concrete, I guess, because I have hundreds of backlist books. So, so choosing them... Sometimes I'll come in and think, "I'm gonna start a book," and then it's just so overwhelming, because I'm like, "There are so many! I'm never gonna get to read them." And then I just won't go.

Sara 19:19

I mean, and it's really... it is difficult to read, because for one thing, I mean, I know this is a total first world type thing, but, my kids are with me a lot, and there's a lot of interrupting, whereas when all of the Coronavirus stuff wasn't going on, my kids would spend time with my parents and stuff. And now, they just are with me all the time, so there's a lot of interrupting and I just can't find the time, the uninterrupted time to read because everybody needs something all the time.

Jen 19:52

I will say that the other day, I was finishing a book. I had two pages left. And I had said that multiple times, and it was still -- nobody had needed me all morning; I had two pages left, and both of my boys and my husband asked me a series of 10 questions. And finally I just went in my room and shut the door and then came out because it didn't take me long, but I wanted to feel it. I didn't want to just, you know, like you said, Sara. I didn't want my eyes just to go over the words and to be like, yay, I finished it! I can't even remember what book it was, but I knew -- normally I would have been sobbing. I didn't quite get there, but I did want to feel it. And audiobooks have been tough, too. Like you said, Ashley, we all normally have a commute and we're moving from school to school. The most audio book I've been listening to is when my husband and I were doing yard work. The boys did not want to help. And I was like, "That's all right. I'm going to listen to my audio book." And so it was hours of audiobook listening, and that's the most I've been able to listen since we've been home it's

Sara 20:54

Yeah, for audiobooks like I try to do an audiobook, or even anything that is audio, and I'll have my headphones in. And most of the time, it's like I'm doing cleaning or folding laundry or whatever. And then one of my kids inevitably comes up and starts talking to me. And I'm like, "Do you see these earbuds? That means I cannot understand anything that you were saying." And so then I stop it. And then I have to go back, or I have the earbuds in and it's like a part in the book, and one of my kids will go to my phone and hit pause, just so jarring. So I'm just like, "I can't do this."

Sara 21:28

So it has been a struggle to figure out how to manage my reading. Because I guess, too, reading is an isolating act, an individual activity. So if everybody's not reading... I mean, we can all watch a movie together or we can all you know, go and play outside together. But reading, unless everybody's reading, it's kind of isolating. And so the kids don't like that time for for their parent, I guess. So. Yeah.

Ashley 21:55

I mean, it's hard not to get discouraged because I think it is exactly that -- that I'll take a book. I'll be hanging out outside, and I'll take a book out there, and an hour will go by and I will read four pages. And literally, that's how much... And again, I mean, it's a minor complaint on the scale of things that are happening, but it's hard not to feel discouraged when you think... We're spending a lot of time at home, and it is hard to quantify what is being accomplished during that time. And I think all people need to feel like they are making accomplishments and that they're doing something. And sometimes I think that's really hard to figure out right now, and to feel like you can quantify it.

Ashley 22:31

And of course, we're also trying to get all of our work done, and make sure that we're doing that work, and a lot of those things are happening... I mean, instead of me working during the work day, I am needing to do all of that at night, and so then that's less time to read, not to mention to do anything else. And so yeah, I think it... I mean, I think that's probably something that a lot of people are experiencing, it's just that it's hard to make... And then... exactly what you said with audiobook. I put in my headphones and it is every two seconds, until I get to the point, 30 minutes later, that I'm like, "This is totally futile." And now I am just really grouchy and mean to everyone... we've accomplished nothing except putting me in a really bad mood. So I've decided to just try to be accepting of that. And just I mean, there's nothing to do except accept, you know, and just take a breath and be like, this is a place in our life that we are not normally going to be. Yeah, because I just don't want... Yeah, we just have to be okay with where we are with stuff, I think, so...

Jen 22:37

Sara, I did think... You said you wish you would made a stack. I think you could do that now. We've got half a year left. If you wanted. I don't think you have to.

Sara 23:43

A stack of one.

Ashley 23:46

I do think that helps me a lot for sure. When I started doing... somewhere, I don't know, maybe it was last summer, that I started doing a hopeful TBR stack for each month. And I don't get to every one, but it does help me a lot to have some direction for the month, even if I don't accomplish them because otherwise, I just get totally overwhelmed because I have so many things on the shelf and because I'm not always thinking about...

book cover of Adib Khorram's Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Ashley 24:15

That was another thing I liked about the challenge, is there a book that I have been wanting to read... I still, Jen, have not read Darius the Great Is Not Okay! I still haven't read it! And I don't want to read it for so long, from the moment that you were like, "you are absolutely gonna love that book!" But I don't... it's not sitting on the shelf. I can get it from the library now, and I can get it as an e-book, so I'm definitely going to do it. But it's like giving yourself permission to prioritize that you really want to read even if that's not the book that's sitting at the top of the shelf or the one that you need to read for some obligation outside of yourself, and so I do think that's what I've appreciated about the challenge, and for you, Sara, if you picked two per month or one per month or whatever, it would still feel... I like that feeling of "Oh, I accomplished that thing!" Even if the thing is small, I think, it feels good to... it's more tangible than just counting the numbers total.

Sara 25:07

I agree.

Jen 25:08

I have to say about Darius the Great, I do think sometimes if it's a book that I think I'm going to love, it is harder for me to start it in circumstances that are not perfect because I want to be able to read it when I know I can give it my full attention, and maybe won't be interrupted, and so yeah. I also want to shout out, though, the sequel is coming out soon, and it got a starred review.

Ashley 25:31

Oh, wow.

Jen 25:32

Yeah, he posted the other day. So I am very excited to read that book, too. And for anyone else who has not read Darius the Great Is Not Okay, full on recommendation. That is one of those books... Yeah, I I'm getting like, all verklempt right now just talking about it. It's so so so so good. Oh, my goodness.

book cover of Abi Dare's The Girl with the Louding Voice

Ashley 25:54

That is true, though, that yeah, again, just accepting that the circumstances are not going to be perfect and, it's okay to go ahead and read it, and to make time for it. And I think that's something else that I've been realizing lately, just as far as setting reading goals, is I have a list of things that have been recommended that I really want to read, but it's easy for other things like ARCs, or things for the podcast, or just books that are physically sitting on the shelf to take precedence over that. And so lately, I've been thinking, you know, how do I make sure that I make time... like, I really wanted to read The Girl with the Louding Voice, and it took me forever to just make time for it. And then I read it, and it was fantastic. And I'm so glad I just said, I'm going stop what I'm doing on these other books, and I'm going to read this book because I really want to read it.

Ashley 26:40

And I think doing more of that is helpful just saying, you know, with intentionality, I want to prioritize this and I'm going to read this book because I want to make sure that I've read it... because otherwise it's just exactly what you said, Sara, about -- once they go in the unread shelf stack, they may never happen in my life.

Sara 27:00

The vortex!

Ashley 27:03

I mean, it feels like, like sucked into a void. And so, you know, how do you make sure that you're getting to the ones that you really know you're going to enjoy and that will be enriching. I mean, you know that you're going to get something out of it.

Jen 27:18

Yeah, I would be curious. I wonder how many of these people who put on challenges like Book Riot or like Anne Bogel, Novel Knight, who are doing updates mid year and finding that a lot of people are in the same position. It's just not as easy to get through the challenge this year.

book cover of George M. Johnson's All Boys Aren't Blue

Ashley 27:37

Yeah, I wonder about that because, in some ways, for myself, when this first happened, for sure my reading took a huge nosedive. But then over time, in some ways I do... because if I'm outside for part of the day on a workday, that is a time that even if I read five pages, it's five pages I would not have read. So there are ways in which I think I have more time during the day to read than I normally would have, but then in some ways that's exchanged for night when I'm working when I normally would be reading instead, so I do wonder about kind of the shifting of time, but I think for a lot of people, I wouldn't be surprised if there's been a big hit on the reading, and I mean, for sure, we're not the only ones with the audiobooks and commutes. I think a lot of people count on that time as a way to fit in more books. And we've talked about before, audiobooks are not my favorite way to consume books, but it helps me so much to get to more books that I want to read, and so... I started George M Johnson's All Boys Aren't Blue, and I am loving it, but it's hard to make up for it, and so I'm excited to listen to it, and I really want to, but it's just really tough to fit it in.

book cover of Sandhya Menon's When Dimple Met Rishi

And so I think that's just a testament to, and same with When Dimple Met Rishi, I'm listening to that on audio, and I really am loving the story, but it is hard... It was not until I had the buddy read external deadline that then I prioritized making the time for it,

Ashley 29:04

And so I just feel like, you know, thinking about how we can make some progress but also, yeah, that this year may just be, like so many other aspects of the year, it may just be not.. not a typical reading year.

Sara 29:18

Yeah, I agree. Well, do either either of you have anything else to say about reading challenges?

Ashley 29:27

I'm interested to know what other people are doing for their challenge and then also how it's going, so...

Sara 29:34

So definitely DM us on social, or comment on our episode post on our website, or just email us. We would love to know how your reading challenge is going for the year.

Give Me One . . . Beach or Pool

image of text "Give Me One" repeated

Sara 29:49

All right. We are now going to move to the way we end every episode. We're going to do Give Me One. And today, we are going to give me one: beach or pool? Ashley, what do you think?

Ashley 30:02

I would say beach still, that I still prefer that, but I do enjoy the pool a lot more than I used to. Since having kids... I've always loved swimming in the pool, but for sure I always preferred the beach as a kid and as an adult. But now having little kids, I very much prefer them to be swimming in the pool. The beach, I'm totally fine if we're on the sand. The moment their feet are touching the water, my anxiety level is up, and so I feel like I'm always on an alert. I think it's necessary, but it's not necessarily as enjoyable, so for sure... I still, personally, if I'm just by myself, and I had to pick one, not considering any of those circumstances, I would choose the beach. But, overall, for our family, the pool is a better fit these days.

Sara 30:55

How about you, Jen?

Jen 30:56

Yeah, my answer is almost identical. And my boys are older, but still... I love the beach. I love the beach, but even thinking about going to the beach I always have that anxiety. It's nature, and so I just always have that little bit of anxiety level. I don't want my boys to be scared of it. They are not the strongest swimmers. And so I am very, very cautious, and the pool, still I'm watching, but they're old enough now that there's a level of trust. They are decent swimmers, especially for the pool. And so there's not nearly as much anxiety there. Yeah, for sure. What about you, Sara?

Ashley 31:32

So, I'm the same way. I I do have all that anxiety about the beach, and my kids just do not love the beach. They don't love the sand and, especially my son... but to me the perfect the perfect situation is being able to see the ocean and the beach being at a pool beach side. You know what I mean? I love the ocean. I love like sitting on the balcony of a hotel room, or some vacation spot, and drinking my coffee and watching the ocean. The ocean just is terrifying to me, so I like to be able to see it and hear it and get all the the positives but not have to worry about my kids and my husband and my family in the ocean. So that's kind of where I am, too.

Sara 32:20

We all agreed today, I believe.

Jen 32:23

That may be the first time ever.

Ashley 32:25

That's true. I agree that the pool... that these days if we can prioritize when we're looking for vacation spots, if we can prioritize a place that has a pool, we choose that over any other kind of nice thing about a spot, we make sure that we have that because absolutely that's a great way to spend time together, and just be in a more controlled environment and still get all the nice benefits of the walks on the beach and all those things, but not so bad if you don't spend every moment out on the sand. Because I think that's something, too; I used to go and I would spend the entire duration of every day that I had free out there, and I don't want to do that; I don't want my kids to be out there like that. I don't have to worry about the sun the whole time. You know, I don't want to deal with the exhaustion afterwards, so yeah, I think it's finding those balances.

Sara 33:16

It's funny when my husband and I, when we were younger, before we were married, we would go to the beach and go out to the beach, and then go back and it'd be like we would stay out there an hour or two and then come back in. But then when you have kids, and you have to drag like 40 tons of stuff with you to the beach for an hour, it's just like... I just need a condo with a pool, or a shack with a pool-- anything with a pool and not have to drag all that stuff. That is crazy.

Jen 33:17

Yeah, I was gonna say we go to the beach every summer with my husband's family, so we get a big house, and that means we can rarely afford to be beachfront because we are getting the bigger house, and we always get a pool, and we used to try -- because we are dragging all the stuff -- and we would try to force the issue and be like, "No, we are going to stay out here for three hours!" And finally I was like, why are we doing this to ourselves? Let's just get back. They can hang out at the pool and like you all said, we'll take a walk at night. We'll look for seashells.

Jen 34:16

The beach is about more than just the beach. And it's about being together as a family and having a nice atmosphere, so yeah, I finally gave up. But it was like I had this vision. My family was not a beach family growing up... I didn't go to the beach until I was 16. I'd never been to a beach before. And so then for me, it was just this amazing thing. And I wanted it to be that for my boys, and they just don't... they like it fine, but they do not want to be out there. We're lucky if we can get an hour, so we just don't take as much. We take some chairs. We take a few sand toys, they dip their feet in, take a boogie board, maybe do that a few times. But yeah, that's it. It's giving up on the vision for the reality.

Sara 34:59

I find as a parent that I have to do that quite often. What happens in my mind is not exactly what the reality is.

Sara 35:08

Well, we thank you for listening today. We hope that you have enjoyed this conversation and again, let us know all about what is happening with your reading challenges. We are so curious to know. And don't forget to check out our website for all kinds of different content and new content that we are constantly putting out there. Thanks for listening.


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