Products and Books I'm Enjoying in 2024
Book Recommendations, Loving and Learning Lately, Products I Love, Reading

Loving and Learning Lately {4}

Welcome to Round 4 of this new little series I started to compile of all the things in life I’m loving and learning lately, from the books I’m currently reading to the products I’m loving to the shows I’m watching (which, spoiler alert–won’t be very many or very exciting, since I’m not a huge t.v. watcher). If you happened to miss my first installment of the series, you can check it out here, and my second installment here, and my third installment here. Note: There are some affiliate links in this post, which means I get a small percentage of any sale made at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting To Love and To Learn!

Loving Lately

  • I’m probably way late joining this ball game, but I just recently signed up for The Skimm daily newsletter, which is a brief summary of important U.S. and international current events and things of human interest, and–bonus!–it’s often done in a slightly humorous way (when appropriate). As a highly sensitive person, I loathe watching the news (it gives me serious anxiety for days and sometimes weeks after), but I also recognize the importance of staying informed on current events. This is the perfect middle ground for me, as it lets me be more in the know of important things going on, but it doesn’t hash over all the horrific details. (Oh, and I also love how it defines important terms for you so you completely understand why certain news events are noteworthy, and I also like that it’s a pretty unbiased source of news.) If you want to subscribe to their (free) daily emails, you can click here.
  • I’m probably one of the biggest fans out there of paper magazines (so old school, I know) because they just make me so EXCITED to check the mail every day. Awhile back, I did a post of reckoning where I calculated all that I had spent that year on my personal vices of clothes, books, magazines, etc. (Spoiler: it wasn’t pretty.) Ever since then, I’m constantly on the lookout of ways to get magazines for dirt cheap or–even better–for free, and I just found another way this last week! If you join the site Recycle Bank (it’s free), you can participate in small tasks such as taking a 5-question quiz or watching a 30-second video or reading an article all about recycling and living more sustainably, and each completed task earns you points. Within about 30 minutes, I’d earned enough points for 3 new magazine subscriptions, which should keep me happy for awhile! (I also legitimately learned a lot about recycling, which I thought I was fairly well-versed on already!)
  • I’m seriously loving our new-to-us Bosch dishwasher! My mom and stepdad recently remodeled their kitchen, and when they offered us their old dishwasher, we couldn’t say yes fast enough as we knew it was leagues ahead of the one we had before. The two of them came up one Saturday to install it for us and help us out with some stuff around the house, and from the moment we ran our first load, I fell totally in love. With every dishwasher I’ve ever had before, I’ve basically always had to almost clean the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher to make sure they’d be clean when they came out. With this new Bosch model, we can seriously put in some crazy-dirty stuff (that’s, uh, maybe sat on the counter for a few days) and have it come out spotless (ask me how I know). If we ever need to replace this dishwasher for any reason, I will only be able to replace it with another Bosch because now that I know how amazing a dishwasher can be, I CAN ACCEPT NOTHING LESS.

Learning Lately

Books I’m Reading

Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces that Make Up a Life by Melanie Shankle

If you’re looking for a well-organized book on how greater meaning can be extracted from all the minutiae of day-to-day living, give this one a pass. However, if you’re looking for a mostly humorous collection of random essays on daily life with the (very) occasional deeper thought thrown in, this is a good one to pick up. This reminds me strongly of Jen Hatmaker’s stuff, though generally a little more relatable to the average person (since Hatmaker has done–and written about–a lot more out-of-the-box stuff). I’m enjoying this one as long as I don’t expect too much from it, and it will probably earn a solid 3 stars from me.


The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I loved The Nightingale by Hannah (which is the only other book by her that I’ve read), and I even put it on my list of books to definitely check out if you want a good love story but “don’t do romances”, so I knew going into this one that my expectations were going to be on the high side. So far, I’m not quite halfway through, and I’m trying to reserve judgment until I finish, but…I don’t think I’m going to like this one quite as much as Nightingale. I’m not sorry I’ve picked it up (yet, anyway), but there are already some potential problems I’m seeing. My review on this one could be on either end of the spectrum (up to 4 stars or as low as 2), depending on how things shake out.

So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson

I don’t often browse for random titles at the library anymore (since I usually have so many books on hold I’m trying to plow through that I just can’t afford the time to read anything else), but I came across this one during my last library trip with the kids and decided I needed a new lighthearted memoir to read (since I usually try to be in the middle of a memoir at all times, if I can find enough supply to keep up with my demand). It would be hard to come up with something totally brilliant and five-star-worthy based on the premise of this book alone (a woman sets out to read a book a week one year), but this book about the life of an avid reader is enjoyable, even if I don’t recognize a lot of the titles (seeing as how this was published in 2003, when I was largely still reading young adult fiction, which she doesn’t talk about at all). It’s been a good light read to pick up though, for whenever The Great Alone has gotten to be a little too heavy. (You can pick this one up for less than $5 on Amazon right now, if you’re interested.)

Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott

I’ve been hearing about this bestseller for years and have heard it touted as the “perfect read for any new mom” multiple times. As I was looking for a lighthearted memoir (see above), I thought this might fit the bill perfectly, especially as I, well, just had a baby and all. Well, I ended up abandoning this one at 18% because it just wasn’t a good fit for me—too much profanity, too many random political references, and just not what I personally need in my own postpartum time. Maybe for some moms, this would be the perfect fit, but as crass humor and frequent f-bombs and weird dark humor aren’t really my thing, I wasn’t sorry to take this one off my TBR list for good.


Links Worth Sharing

  • Popular Mechanic did this post of 100 Skills Everyone Should Know which I just couldn’t resist clicking into. Let’s just say that I was a bit embarrassed at how many of them I rely on Matt to do for me…
  • This post about 30 Middle Grade Books to Add to Your Bucket List (by Mind Joggle) made me realize that I’ve read a lot more middle grade fiction than I thought—and that it’s a niche ripe with excellent reads I still need to check out!
  • This Financial Stats Bomb! post is a collection a of a ton of recent surveys that have been done around the subject of money and finances, and it made for a super interesting read (especially as each item was followed with personal (and often humorous) commentary from the blogger. Some super interesting stats in there, and it made me realize that in many ways, Matt and I are even “weirder” than we thought (like in the fact that we don’t own smartphones, or in the fact that I didn’t want a big fancy engagement ring, so I chose one that only cost like $300 or something like that).
  • And, because I’m a sucker for psychology and research and stuff–This is How to Make Your Life Awesome: 6 Secrets From Research


Hope you’re having a good week! Now tell me the name of a good lighthearted memoir since I’m going to need another one in about two days…


Liked this post? Then you'll probably also like...