Lists of 5: Post-Valentine’s Day Edition


I just realized I haven’t done one of these posts since last August! Definitely time for an update. 🙂

So, without further ado:

The Last 5 Books I’ve Read (starting with the most recent):

1-Annie Leibovitz At Work, by Annie Leibovitz (I just started this one. Famous as she is, I actually don’t know much about Annie Leibovitz – or her work, really. How did she get to be such a well-known portraitist? What’s her background? What drives her/inspires her/motivates her? I’m curious!)

2-Claimed by Shadow, by Karen Chance (I’m a very eclectic reader – but urban fantasy isn’t necessarily my first choice in reading material. I’ve read in the genre before – because I was a bookseller for years & years, and through that have read a little bit of everything, I think! And I liked what I read previously okay. I enjoyed the little bit I read in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series particularly, I remember – but I never really got into that one…or into anything else I sampled from the genre, for that matter. But a few weeks ago I was at the library and Karen Chance‘s name caught my eye – and I flashed back to a customer talking about her books during my bookseller days (a fan.) I couldn’t remember the details of this conversation, only the author’s name and the name of the heroine of Chance’s series [Cassie Palmer] and the fact that this woman liked the series so much. So I grabbed the book and brought it home – more because it was time to leave [and so I didn’t have a chance to leaf through and jog my memory further] than because I really desired to read the book through. But I actually got into it! This would be Touch the Dark, [#3 on my list here.] I like books I can’t predict – and this one is just full of all kinds of crazy happenings, with no predictable plotline. Reading it felt like watching a very fast-paced adventure movie – which I guess I’m in the mood for, because I really enjoyed that. The characters are well-rounded and fun. Cassie is a good heroine – very real, in that she’s smart and brave, but also has a lot to learn. I got totally sucked in to it all  – enough to pick up Claimed by Shadow [which is the second in the Cassie Palmer series.] So far, it has all of the things I liked about the first one – but has fleshed out Cassie and the other characters and the fantasy elements, which hones a few of the rough edges I noticed in the first one. If subsequent books continue to expand and refine themselves like this, and also keep up this fun, crazy pace I’m enjoying, I’m going to have to read the entire series…I can tell already!)

3-Touch the Dark, by Karen Chance (see #2!)

4-The Tao of Photography, by Philippe Gross & S.I. Shapiro (I read this about two years ago, when I was just first starting to take photography seriously. When I read it back then, I was struck with how it put into words a lot of what I was feeling about photography and my own life – specifically, the way in which photography is, for me, such a powerful tool for mindfulness. It’s an almost meditative thing. I’ve come a long way since that last read-through – and this book is resonating even more strongly this time.)

5-Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen (I’ve been on a Jane Austen re-read kick lately [though Karen Chance has thrown me off of it now. See #2 above!] I hadn’t read Northanger Abbey in a couple of years – and in the past, it’s been the Austen I’ve enjoyed least. Not because it’s a bad book, but because I just never really got into the characters, compared with her other novels. This time though, I really enjoyed it! Catherine is so bright and lively – a straightforward, kindhearted, practical person [despite the flights of fancy she takes, courtesy of her reading material.] And I’ve always liked the character of Henry Tilney; he’s been my favorite part of past reads. I liked him even better this time around. 🙂 )

The Last 5 Songs That Came Up When I Set My Music Player to Random:

1-Arc of Time, by Bright Eyes

2-Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, by Pearl Jam

3-Awake My Soul, by Mumford&Sons

4-Strange Currencies, by R.E.M.

5-Denial Thing, by Amanda Palmer

The Last 5 Movies I’ve Watched:

1-Serendipity (I’m not so much about the rom-coms, generally. But this one really gets me!)

2-The Martian (I’ve always had a fascination with Mars. I don’t know why, exactly! I think because of the similarities & proximity to Earth [I find it really exciting that they’ve now verified the presence of water there!!] This movie was interesting in that regard – providing visuals, providing an idea of what it might be like [someday, anyway] to physically move around within that environment. It actually didn’t feel much like a science fiction film to me – regardless of the fact that big components of it had to do with ships in space and so on. I didn’t relate to it like that. Instead, I found myself rather thinking about the explorers of a few hundred years ago…of what it must have felt like to be setting off across oceans to brand new and unknown, uncharted lands…of what it must have been like to be faced with trying to find a way to survive in them. This was unexpectedly fascinating. It was also really inspiring to watch somebody in such daunting [and that’s a huge understatement of an adjective!] circumstances dig in and deal with the issues at hand, one at a time, using whatever he had in him – from learned knowledge to physical strength to creativity. [I might have been more open to experiencing this aspect of the movie after my recent watching of Meru (see #3 below!)] So essentially, The Martian wasn’t what I expected it to be when I sat down to watch it – but I really liked it. Matt Damon was excellent in it, too.)

3-Meru (This was SO interesting! I’ve been following Renan Ozturk on Instagram for a while now; that’s how I heard of this. I wanted to watch it mainly because I love his photography and I wanted to see more about how people like that get such breathtaking shots. And I did get that out of it – and a lot more as well! I’m totally awed by the amount of determination and focus that goes into a climb like Meru was. Amazing. I’m now following Jimmy Chin on Instagram as well, who made the movie. His work is even more beautiful than Renan Ozturk’s. This documentary was VERY worth watching, if you get the opportunity!)

4-Pride and Prejudice (Okay, first the good: I liked the visuals; it was rich that way. I also liked the energy; it’s more lively than some Jane Austen adaptations – and that gives it an interesting quality. And, while I don’t like some of the characterizations (Mr. Bingley, particularly), I actually have no particular problems with the acting or the casting. [With the exception of Rosamund Pike as Jane. She was pretty enough, I think, for the character – who’s supposed to be outstandingly beautiful. But I don’t think she captured Jane Bennet’s sweetness very well, or the bond between her and Elizabeth – and that left kind of a hole in the story.] So yes, it had its worthy aspects. But the bad was just really, really bad!!! I didn’t at all like the way the novel was adapted, is what it came down to. I found this movie to be a complete caricature of the book. I had just re-read the book and had done some particular thinking about it and its messages [enough, at least, to write a post about it] – so maybe that’s why this struck me so forcibly; I don’t know. I hate to be so negative, but I just have to say it: this, in my opinion, was the worst adaptation of a Jane Austen novel EVER.)

5-Inside Out (I loved this! It was simultaneously charming, smart, interesting and emotionally authentic. I can’t think of another movie I enjoyed so thoroughly that my kids [9 & 6] also loved, and their dad [my ex] as well. We all watched it together  – and none of us was bored or disappointed. That’s rare! Really, really good.)

The 5 Places I’d Travel to RIGHT NOW If Money Was No Object:

Honestly? I don’t have five places this time. I just have one requirement – and it could be met in a variety of locales, I think: It’s that I want to see really, really clear stars. A big, wide, bright expanse of them. Something like #6 here (actually any of the other places on the list would be pretty worthy of visiting, too – stars or no! But I do really want the stars right now.)

The Last 5 Blog Posts/Articles I’ve Read Online:

1-“On Being an Unemployed Arts Graduate

2-“Self-Knowledge Questionnaire

3-“The Next Tesla Will Start at $35,000, But Don’t Expect to Pay That Price

4-“Watch Leonardo DiCaprio Charmingly Smooch Dame Maggie Smith on the BAFTA Kiss Cam

5-“Where Your Photos Were Published

The Last 5 Food/Drink Items I’ve Consumed:

1-black coffee

2-handful of chili-lime almonds + arugula

3-seltzer + a splash of orange juice

4-Whole Foods’ vegan pizza (yummy!!)

5-seltzer + a splash of mango lemonade

The Last 5 Things That Have Inspired Me:

1-this article on the relevance of art & the humanities

2-the words + photography of Wynn Bullock

3-the Meru documentary

4-the urban photography of Vivinne Gucwa

5-the portraiture of Alessio Albi

The Last 5 Beautiful Things I’ve Encountered in the Everyday:

1-the sound of rain in the very early morning

2-being woken up by a little girl with a glowing face jumping up and down beside my bed going, “Mommy! I’m seven! It’s my birthday morning! I’m seven! I’m seven!” Talk about embracing the moment!! I need to be more like that.

3-a dog with big brown eyes and shining black fur who rams her head into your stomach in her own version of a hug

4-snow falling in big flakes

5-clear blue sky, shining over glittery white ground

The Last 5 Photos I’ve Taken:


How sad is this scene?? I took this two days before Valentine’s Day, at the apartment complex dumpster. There’s a story here! I wish I knew it!






Cars! This was the parking lot of the apartment complex, early Sunday morning of the Jonas Blizzard




Okay, that’s it. Until next time, that is! (I love making these lists! 🙂 )


4 thoughts on “Lists of 5: Post-Valentine’s Day Edition

  1. Great list. I just recently came across Mumford & Sons, through their video Babel, both song and video was stunning, and so it is with Awake My Soul. I now have Meru on my must see list. “Touching the Void” (2003) would be a great companion film if you haven’t seen that one yet (based on the book 1998 book).


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