Motherhood & Words

skiing, reading, and e-books

We’re back from five days at my mom’s cabin in Northern Minnesota. It was colder than we would have liked, which curtailed some of our outdoor activities. But even with the cold, the girls got out and skated every day. And Stella and I skied the long loop through the woods once, which was so fun. I love that she’s old enough to manage an hour on skis with me.


But the weather (-20° *without* wind chill) kept me from exercising as much as I usually do. Add way too many rich meals, too many glasses of wine, and a pan of Scotcheroos to the mix, and, well, I need to get to the gym.

But the cold weather and cozy cabin made for lots of time doing puzzles and playing Uno with the girls, watching movies, and reading. I caved this year and asked for a Kindle for Christmas. Oh I know; I won’t use it for most of my reading. I still love the weight of a real book in my hands.  But occasionally it makes sense to get an e-book (say if my book club is reading something that I’m pretty sure I won’t read again and it’s a book I need now because we meet the next morning—not that that happens, of course). The other reason I wanted an e-reader is because of Shebooks, the new publisher of short e-books for women, by women. I love this idea, and I also love what/who they are kicking off with: short stories and memoirs by Hope Edelman, Faith Adele, and Suzanne Antonetta Paola to name a few. And they are great, people. Please check them out. And only $2.99 each. (I’ll interrupt here to say that I’m thrilled that Suzanne has a new memoir, Make Me a Mother, coming out in February and that she has just agreed to come to Minneapolis for the 8th Annual Motherhood & Words Reading on May 7th at the Loft Literary Center. More on that to come.)

Anyway, I got a Kindle so I could support Shebooks and my author friends who are publishing with them. (And also so my slacker self could save face at book group.) But at the cabin I also read a couple of hold-in-my-hands books: Adriana Páramo’s new memoir, My Mother’s Funeral, which I loved. (I’ll be interviewing Adriana in the coming weeks here, so stay tuned.) I read Sarah Wells’ beautiful collection of poetry, Pruning Burning Bushes. (Sarah will be a guest here soon, as well.) And I started Alice Munro’s fabulous new collection of stories, Dear Life. Honestly, these stories are stunning. I wish I could curl up at read them all day. (But see above. I need to go to the gym and then attend to all sorts of work-related items. And to generally catch up after being unplugged for five days.)

I’d love to hear what you’re reading and how your holidays went. I’m grateful for you, my community of virtual and in-person friends. Wishing you a new year filled with love and laughter, good health, and many fabulous books.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Rachael on January 2, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I can relate to the indulging in food and wine–every year, the same thing! I acquired a used treadmill in December and am pleased to see how well it works to read from my Nook while walking (I don’t think it would work while running, but more motivation to also fit in a short walk during the day, too!). So there’s another bonus for your Kindle. I still do most of my reading with print books, but an e-reader provides some good options.

    Over the holidays I read “A House in the Sky” by Amanda Lindhout. It was amazing. I posted a Goodreads review:

    I’m glad you had a nice family getaway! Happy New Year!

    • Kate on January 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Ah yes, Rachael, I read about your treadmill on Facebook. I’m no good a treadmills, and I’d probably fall off if I tried to read and walk. (I’m seriously challenged!) But I love that you can make it work. Checking out the Lindhout book now. Thanks for the recommendation. And of course We’ll be the Last Ones to Let You Down is sitting here on my desk, waiting patiently!

  2. Sara on January 2, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Can you read at the gym (they say large print is good for that)? I can’t seem to get into a book while I’m working out (then again, I can’t seem to get into working out at the gym). I just walked the dog around the block, which was less exercise than I needed but about all my cold-addled lungs can take right now. We’re heading into a cold snap that I predict will keep me from starting running again for a while, though if the storm picks up as anticipated there might be some skiing or snowshoeing in my near future.

    I chose to not do a lot of things in December and a bonus of that was that I got to read a lot. I read The End of Your Life Book Club (free, hardcover from the dump), Sun Shine Down (free, won it in a contest you had something to do with), Alice Hoffman’s Survival Lessons, and stumbled back into fiction with Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Through the Evil Days, Amy Tan’s The Valley of Amazement and Brett Lott’s Jewel. I loved Jewel and thought of you when I was reading it because of the portrayal of motherhood in it, not told by a mother though.

    Currently in my stack: The Memoir Project, Gilead, and What I Thought I Knew.

    Happy new year!

    • Kate on January 2, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      The cold is awful, isn’t it, Sara? I’d really love to just lace up my shoes and run out the door, but that is clearly going to have to wait. I can’t read at the gym (mostly because I can’t stand those machines…see my comment to Rachael.)

      You DID get a lot of reading done in December. I love that you scaled back and tucked in the way you did. I have had Jewel on my list forever, so it’s time I did something about that. I love Brett Lott! Thanks for the recommendations! And happy reading in 2014!

  3. Sue on January 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I was an early adopter of the e reader (the Canadian Kobo). I read my fiction mostly electronically and my non fiction in paper as I love to highlight and make notes. I finished Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp and was so sad to read that she has passed away as I wanted to rush online & see how she was doing today after I got to know her in her memoir. I am now reading a delightful, funny book The Rosie Project where the narrator has Asperger’s syndrome. Did quite a bit of skating over the holidays but am feeling like a stuffed turkey after the treats- looking onward to the return to routine next week (my lot are still off).

    • Kate on January 2, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      I love your fiction/nonfiction line with your e-reader, Sue! I’ve heard good things about Drinking, and I’ll add The Rosie Project to my list. (Though I should focus on the books on my desk and stacked on the floor rather than continuing to add books to my list.)

      Yes, I’m looking forward to next week’s routine. My girls are off until Monday, too. We’re in full play-date rotation.

  4. jenn on January 2, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    I’m nearly finished with Until I Say Goodbye (Susan Spencer-Wendel) and just finished The Fault in Our Stars (John Green). BTW: There’s an indoor triathlon coming up… 🙂

    • Kate on January 2, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      Ah, yes, Jenn. What do you think of the Spencer-Wendel book? I’ve read snippets of it and have been meaning to get it. I’ve read/watched some amazing interviews with her and her husband. And I’ve heard great things about the Green book.

      We need to chat about the indoor tri. Logistically it doesn’t seem like fun, but maybe I’m wrong about that. Have you done one before?

  5. Tamara Robinson on January 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I’m reading “Ready for Air” by Kate Hopper. In love with Kate and Donny all over! Warm and inviting….snuggled up by my fire happy for the excuse not to venture out to the gym.
    Happy New Year!

    • Kate on January 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Oh Tamara, thank you! I wish I was sharing that fire with you (and maybe a bottle of wine). Oh wait, I guess I’m supposed to be getting back on track…

  6. Angie Mizzell on January 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    I’m bookmarking this post! Your holiday sounds wonderful… um, what are Scotcharoos? Do they pair well with wine? 🙂 Happy New Year, Kate. Cheers.

    (ps… so before I posted the comment, I googled Scotcharoos and “Scotharoo calories” popped up in the search bar. I got my answer!)

    • Kate on January 3, 2014 at 9:01 am

      Scotcharoo calories indeed! I have to give up sugar again or I’m going to be in trouble! (and of course everything goes well with wine, my dear.) Happy New Year to you, too!

  7. Barb Buckner Suarez on January 2, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I’m reading Blue Plate Special by Kate Christenson. I’m enjoying it and trying to just read something fun for me as opposed to something that I really want to read but it’s also supposed to be informing my own book and writing, you know what I mean? For the past 9 months, I feel like most, if not all of my reading has had something to do with my book – which is great, don’t get me wrong, but I kind of feel like I’m always reading for work instead of pleasure.

    So this has been a nice departure for me – part memoir, part cookbook (mini recipes throughout). It’s been indulgent, and I’ve enjoyed every stolen moment of it. I’ve also really enjoyed having someone else who is a fabulous cook make my meals for me and someone who knows an awful lot about wine pour my glasses for me! And believe it or not, I’ve gotten a run in every other day as well as about 2 hours of writing in for my book every other day. It’s been a GREAT vacation and a really nice start to 2014.

    PS – I also got a Kindle for Christmas from my techie hubby but I have to say, I’m still warming up to the idea…

    • Kate on January 3, 2014 at 9:03 am

      Barb, what a wonderful break! Running AND reading and writing! Fabulous!

      I know what you mean about reading that feels like work. Most of my reading falls into that category, and I love it when I find a book that makes me forget to read like a writer. It’s such a joy! Happy New Year!

  8. Jennifer Wolfe on January 3, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    I’m spending lots of time in the snow – my kids are ski racers – and I cherish these slow, quiet days of vacation, too! Right now I’m reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

  9. Jennifer Wolfe on January 3, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    I’m spending lots of time in the snow – my kids are ski racers – and I cherish these slow, quiet days of vacation, too! Right now I’m reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

    • Kate on January 4, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Jennifer, thanks for stopping by! Ski racers would necessitate LOTS of time in the snow! I hope you’re staying warm.

      Gilead is just lovely, isn’t it?

  10. Katharina Staub on January 4, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Kate
    I actually spent the holiday reading your book. We went skiing as well with my prem twins born in 2008. I founded Canadian Premature Babies Foundation last year. I’m busy. My kids were born at 27 weeks. We’ve had our ups and downs..
    going strong.
    Loved your book, feel like I know Stella well. so hard to bond with prems and I’ve never know anything differently.
    If you can, let’s keep in touch. warmest regards Katharina
    With Tim- and twins Max and Nadia

    • Kate on January 5, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Hi Katharina,

      Thanks so much for stopping by (and for your kind words about Ready for Air). I’ve had your foundation on my radar through Twitter, so I’m happy to be in touch. And I’m glad Max and Nadia are doing well! I look forward to being in touch!

  11. Nina on January 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I was curious about SheBooks. Will check it out!

    Happy New Year Kate!

    • Kate on January 6, 2014 at 11:34 am

      You’ll love them, Nina! Happy New Year to you, too!

  12. Autumn on January 7, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Kate,

    This post reminds me of my dad cross-country skiing in the bitter cold, of ice skating with friends, building igloos in the snow with my brother and sisters, and sledding down our snowy lane (which we once iced over with the garden hose—got in major trouble for that one!) So glad to hear you and your family had a lovely holiday and got away for a few days for some r & r.

    I took a break from the computer and tried to enjoy Christmas a little more this year now that Lydia is finally at the age where she is able to keep up with Mariah, Cassius, and their cousins. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, just spent a lot of time together and I tried to be better about focusing on really being present with them–something I’m not great at. And, I read A LOT. It was awesome. Some of the best moments this holiday were spent curled up in my favorite overstuffed rocking chair with my Kindle in hand, hot tea in the other, and occasionally looking up to see the kids outside enjoying the snow.

    I decided to read a mix of books this Christmas break, and one I thoroughly enjoyed was a Kindle Single, The First Day of Christmas by Carolyn Nash. Also, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett was wonderful. Right now, I’m reading Meg Wolizter’s The Interestings (have you read it?) and Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home.

    Thanks for the heads-upon Shebooks. I can’t wait to go over there and indulge in some new reading!

    • Kate on January 8, 2014 at 8:47 am

      Autumn, good for you for unplugging over the break. It’s so important to do that every once in a while to regain perspective, don’t you think? I love the image of you curled in your chair reading. Thanks for the recommendations, as well. So many books, so little time…. Happy New Year, my friend!