Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: books

Encouraging the non-reader

If I remember my American history correctly (which, let’s face it, I might not. You know, because I’m getting old), pioneers loved books (well, the ones who could read loved books). And given the fact that books and magazines were not published with the frequency that they are today, and were not as readily available as they are today, they treasured the ones they could get their hands on.

books 2I get it. I love books. Like, a lot. I genuinely cannot remember a time in my life that I couldn’t read or had bookshelves full of books or a list of more books to read than I could ever find time for. Everything about books makes me happy and I’m pretty sure one of my dream jobs would be working as a book buyer for my state’s library system. Buying books with someone else’s money?!

Sign. Me. Up.

Given my enthusiasm for books, it makes me sad when people tell me they don’t like to read, especially when you think about the pioneers who wanted books and had no access to them. I once worked with a woman who told me she hadn’t been to a library since her son, who was 22 at the time, was a toddler. I wept a little inside at that comment. But it’s people like her that I want to reach. It’s people like her that I want to come around and understand the immense value and power of books.

But how?

That’s the hard part.

So I started brainstorming some ideas for getting those who don’t enjoy reading to read more (and enjoy it!). Or, at the very least, to give it a shot. Here’s what I came up with:

Start a book club
Invite some friends or co-workers and choose a book with widespread appeal (even if you don’t understand the appeal of the book. Yes, 50 Shades series, I’m looking at you). Make it an enjoyable experience and hold the monthly discussions at a restaurant or hold a potluck. Talk about the book in general rather than philosophical terms. If you don’t want to start a book club, recommend one that you know about (like the Little House book club I’m hosting).

Attend an author reading
Sometimes seeing an author passionately speak about a book or read passages from it is enough to get you hooked. I saw Garth Stein do a talk/reading about The Art of Racing in the Rain a few years ago and I am an even bigger fan now. If someone you know isn’t into reading, try to convince them to go with you to something like that, especially if it’s free. They might make a personal connection to the author and give his or her books a try.

Buy books as gifts
I know that for someone who doesn’t like to read, a book may seem like a strange gift. But maybe she doesn’t read because the thought of picking out a book is overwhelming or they just don’t know what they like to read or he doesn’t have the money to buy books or something else. If you take some time to think about that person’s interests, likes, hobbies, etc., I’m certain you will find something enjoyable for that person to read. Then, she might read it because it a) was free and b) is in the house.

Some other ideas I came up with are: drive someone to the library and on the way, espouse the benefits using it; talk about or mention books you’re reading in conversations (as in “Did you see the trailer for Gone Girl? What a great book! I hope the movie does it justice.”); or you can mention all the ways that your kids’ school encourages them to read or the free programs to get books to kids (PJ Library, Imagination Library) and how you wish adults had that. This might open up a conversation, too.books 1

I understand that book brainwashing might not be effective on everyone. But if one person converts from a non-reader to a reader, then it’s worth it.



What would you do to convince someone to start reading more or just start reading?

April goals (and a book club giveaway!)


I’m starting something new. I’ve seen it on other blogs and even tried it once before on a previous site. For some reason, it’s never stuck, but you know what? It’s worth a shot again.

What the heck am I talking about? I’m talking about sharing my monthly goals.

While I’m usually not one to put that kind of information out there, I think that it’s a good way to keep myself and my project on track. I have a tendency to self-sabotage when things are going well and I want to break that cycle. I’m hoping that by sharing my goals with you guys, it’ll keep me focused and also, because I did share my goals, I don’t want to seem like a huge slacker and I’ll actually be productive.

So here we go. For the month of April, I plan to:

  1. Make homemade butter. This was the first pin I put in my pioneer project Pinterest board. I don’t know that it’s necessarily cheaper than buying store made butter but it’s one of the hallmarks of pioneer living. It’s time.
  2. Crochet one dish cloth. After trying and practicing on a crochet hook and the knitting loom, I think crocheting is the way to go right now. It’ll be nice to put something homemade in my kitchen, too (you know, that’s not edible). I also have a goal to make it look nice, not like something my dog made.
  3. Work on my business. Many pioneers were entrepreneurial, and that’s actually something I had going for me before I started this project. I own and operate a blogger mentoring program and this month, I need to finish the site redesign and update the menu of services.
  4. Start our garden. This is more of my husband’s project than mine because he loves gardening. I do not. However, I need to be more involved and this means actually having an opinion on what we grow, how big the garden should be, and assisting in planting. It’s unpleasant but I’ll do it. Pioneers had to do shit they didn’t like all the time.
  5. Participate in the Watch Your Wallet Challenge. I adore the concept of this challenge, hosted by Steph at Life According to Steph and Marla at Luck Fupus, particularly as you get to make your own rules. My rules for the challenge are: no stupid tax (late fees, library fines, etc), only make frivolous purchases using gift cards, stick to my grocery budget, use coupons more often, refrain from buying more craft supplies, and keep up with our 52 week savings challenge.
Life According to Steph

There are a few more goals on my list but there’s no need to share them. But what I can share is this nifty button I made for anyone who’s joining the Little House bookclub (it starts tomorrow!) and, below the button, is a giveaway for a complete set of the Little House books! That’s right, one lucky reader will get a chance to win all 9 books! Thanks to Steph, Jenniemarie, and Athena for assisting with the giveaway. Good luck!

P.S. Please excuse the horrible formatting of what you’re about to see. WP is being an asshole or I’m doing something wrong and can’t get it to do what I want. But I think you get the point.

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What I’m reading: Pioneer project edition

I. Love. Books.

Given the choice, I’d pick reading above almost every activity imaginable. I can’t remember the last time I went a day without reading at least a few pages of a book. And it recently occurred to me that if I were stuck in my house for days on end, as long as I had green tea, ingredients for grilled cheese, and books, I could entertain and sustain myself without getting bored.

It should come as no surprise, then, that as part of my pioneer project, I’ve done some research and identified a few books that are an integral part of the project:

The Modern Pioneer: Simple Living in the 21st Century–This is basically my handbook for my project. Many of the recipes, activities, and crafts I have planned are ideas taken from this book. My husband is particularly excited about brewing our own beer. I’m looking forward to having a completed sewing project that doesn’t look like shit.


Confessions of a Prairie Bitch–memoir by the actress who played Nellie Oleson on the Little House series. I love memoirs, and I am really excited that she wrote one. I hope she talks extensively about Michael Landon because he always seemed like such a nice guy. Also, I want to know what she thought about being hated and how she got through it.


O Pioneers!–part of a trilogy by Willa Cather about life on the prairie land. From what I’ve heard about it, it’s a little more accurate than the Little House series so I’m hoping to get an even broader perspective of frontier life. If this one is good, I’ll read the whole trilogy.


Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm–I picked this one up on a whim at the library but had so many books out at the time, I made a note to read it later. The book is another memoir, this one about a woman who had to employ survival skills that would have made the pioneers proud to save her farm after her divorce.


I’m also in the middle of reading the whole Little House series with my daughter and, because it was essential to the pioneers, I’m trying to read the Bible.

I hadn’t originally folded reading into my project plan but I figured, why not? Many pioneers valued reading and devoured what they could get their hands on. That’s right in line with what I do anyway, so adding just seemed logical.

What books would you add or recommend?


31 Steps for Feeling Happier, Step 26: Try something new

31 Steps blog buttonHow did yesterday go? Did you find something you dislike about yourself and decide to embrace rather than hate? Do you feel better now that you made that choice?

I kind of do. I mean, I want to be okay with that part of myself but I don’t that I’ll ever fully accept it. I do, however, feel better that I’ve decided to try to be happy with it.

I’m not sure if that makes any sense.

But I think you understand. trying something new

Given the intensity of yesterday’s challenge, today we’re going to do something a little easier. A little more fun. A little more adventurous. What are we doing? Today, we’re focusing on trying something new. It can be a new food, a new system of doing chores, a new hairstyle, a new movie, a new book, a new band. Anything that is new to you, and might be a little out of the ordinary, will work.

How will this make you happier? Well, it’ll break you from your comfort zone, which is a great way to build self-confidence. Trying something new may expose you to a whole new way of thinking. It might make you more productive. It might introduce you to some new friends. Any of these, individually or combined, can have a significant impact on how happy you feel on a given day.

For instance, when I first tried Zumba last year, it was a huge step for me. I am horribly uncoordinated, I’m not particularly outgoing, and I’m not exactly what you call a “joiner”. I tend to do things by myself. Group activities freak me out. But I was getting bored with cardio machine and weights and if I was going to keep my depression at bay sans pills, I had to try something new. So, I bit the bullet and went to a class.

Little did I know how much it would change me. And how much happier I am now as a result. In fact, if you were at FinCon13, you might have noticed me wearing what looked like a breast cancer awareness bracelet with a weird looking black symbol on it. That’s my Zumba bracelet, given to me by one of my instructors/friends as a sort of security bracelet and reminder that I can do more than I think (and keeping with me all those I know fighting their cancer battles right now).

It worked, too.

But the moral of the story is that you don’t know the life changing effects trying something new can have. That’s not to say that finding a more efficient way to clean your bathroom will change your life but it might make it easier and free up more time for other, more interest stuff to try.

4 agreementsAs for me, my new thing for today is reading the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I’m not much into new-age type philosophy but my cousin, whom I respect and admire a great deal and is an NLP provider/hypnotherapist/life coach, recommended it. I trust him and his opinions so I’m giving it a shot (and based on the reviews and summaries I’ve read, it does sound like a philosophy I can get behind).

I broke my mold once before and it worked wonders. I’m hoping this does the same.

What’s your something new? Anything you’ve been wanting to try and haven’t? 

31 Steps for Feeling Happier, Step 10: Read a book

20131006-115008.jpgI actually sat down and made a career vision board yesterday. It felt weird to put on paper what I’ve been thinking in my head for a while yet it also felt good. I don’t know if I’m ready to let anyone else see it but I know it’s there. I can look at it when I’m feeling down and need inspiration and motivation to keep going. As I said on Facebook, it’s not at all pretty to look at but it’s done. It’s probably more reflective of the ugly, messy journey that I’m on than if I had made it all sparkly and beautiful anyway.

While I’m not ready to show you my entire vision board, I will tell you that part of it deals with writing a book. That’s been a long standing dream of mine. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a published author (which, I guess I sort of am. I was a contributing author in a book on writer’s block. You can see it on Amazon if you want. If you buy it, I get no money at all but it would make me feel good). I took a step towards that last year when I participated–and won–NaNoWriMo. I’m working on another book this year as well and at some point, will edit them both and start shopping them around.

Because there really is nothing like a good book. And if I can contribute to that, I will have achieved one of my major life goals.

But enough about me. Let’s focus instead on today’s step which is simply to read a book. Take 15 minutes and get through a chapter or two. If you’re not in the middle of one (or two or three like I am), take some time to find a new one and start it. If you don’t know what to read and you suffer from too many good book choices paralysis as I do occasionally, browse Goodreads or Amazon for recommendations. Ask friends on Facebook what they’re reading. Ask me. I’m happy to share what I’m reading, what I’ve read, and what I want to read (I do have a Pinterest board devoted to books but I have not updated it in months). books 1

If you truly don’t have time to read today, then just make a list of books you want to read. Divide them into categories like career, fiction, classics, nonfiction/memoirs and commit to yourself that this weekend, you will choose one book from each category to read by the end of the year. A quote that Dave Ramsey used to say is “In 5 years, you’ll be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read”. He’s right. Books can have a tremendous impact on you as a person.

They can impact your happiness, too. Reading a book is a great escape from reality. A book can inspire you to make a change or fuel your creativity or take a risk or simply just provide entertainment. Books give us something in common with strangers. They can be great conversation starters. And when you start connecting more with yourself and others, your happiness level starts to go up which in turn leads to us being able to work on other aspects of our lives.

That’s the power of books.

So start reading.

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