My Reading List: Must-Read Books for 2019

Bonjour! Did you make crêpes for la Chandeleur over the weekend? Much of the French population did! The Christian holiday of la Chandeleur (Candlemas) always falls on Groundhog Day here in the U.S., so it's easy for me to remember to make crêpes for dinner each February 2nd, even though crêpes have nothing to do with marmottes. I like the thought of so many people eating crêpes for dinner on the same night each year. It's a more heartwarming picture than everyone watching the Super Bowl together, don't you think? But to each (country) their own habits!

That said, the Super Bowl was a good excuse for us to invite family and friends over. Once the game was done and the kitchen was tidied, though, I continued reading Circe by Madeline Miller. Her first book, Song of Achilles, was the first book I finished this year, and it was riveting. Miller's gifted writing and her intimate knowledge of the flawed characters of Greek mythology make her novels utterly fascinating. These are not stories of moral virtue; instead, they show why we can still respect the broken heroes of the classical world.

I'll happily finish Circe soon since I have a number of fascinating titles waiting on my bookshelves, both in French and English. Here are the books on my list for 2019:

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Streamlining my Hopes for this Year: What I'm Loving

Bonjour mes amis,

How did the month of January go for you? Are you still feeling hopeful about 2019? There are a few simple things that have given me a burst of optimism about this year and the future, so I'd like to share what I've found:

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Automne à Lyon: Learning to Live Like a Local

My four children and I have been living in Lyon for roughly six weeks now, but it feels longer in the best way. We just love it here. I’m so grateful that God has blessed our stay, and yet at the same time I’m grieving that we’ll have to leave in two weeks. However, my husband has been waiting patiently for us in Oregon, so being with him again will truly make it feel like coming home.

What do we love about Lyon right now? Here are four aspects that are making us happy:

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La Rentrée à Lyon: Returning to Lyon as an Expat Family

We arrived in Lyon two weeks ago, mid-August. The city seemed both paradoxically full of tourists and empty of Lyonnais citizens, as is normal here in August. Since we are living in Vieux Lyon, tourists are ever present in this Renaissance neighborhood and UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it has been a relief to see the crowds dwindle and the restaurants re-open as locals return from summer vacations.

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La Pause à Paris: Hanging Out at the (Updated) Eiffel Tower

When we last visited Paris three years ago, we chose not to go up the Eiffel Tower because our children were content to see it from below and we knew there would be hundreds of tourists in line. But this visit, it was important to our 6- and 9-year-olds to ascend the tower, so we made it a priority on our last day in Paris. Here's what we learned:

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Giverny and Monet's Garden: the Beauty of Spring

May has arrived and Mother's Day is around the corner, but I'm still thinking of April . . . as in April one year ago! I was visiting Paris to run my first marathon and I squeezed in a side trip to Giverny, the site of Monet's family home and garden. My French friends were unsure as to whether there would be many blooms there so early in the season, but I made the half-day trip anyhow and I am still dreaming of the timeless beauty I saw there.

(You might also enjoy the garden stamps we've been inspired to use this spring! I share them at the bottom of this post.)

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Marathon de Paris 2017: Sweat & Joie de Vivre

Twelve days ago I sat cross-legged in the middle of the Champs Elysées, feeling strangely calm as the sun warmed the cobblestones and I waited for the start of my first marathon. I regarded the sea of running shoes and bare legs--many of the 52,000 marathon runners had chosen to wear shorts because of the predicted warmth. A friend who'd run this marathon years earlier had warned me about the low number of porta-potties here at the start, and now I was grateful not to need to join the ranks of worried-looking runners currently queuing at significant lengths from the occasional toilet.

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Approaching the Paris Marathon: from Oregon Snow to Sunday Sunshine

Signing up for a marathon is an act of faith: you hope for good weather, ever-increasing health, and adequate time to complete your training. From my standpoint last fall, the 2017 Marathon de Paris seemed possible: my toddler would be weaned (hopefully), our year-long homebuilding project would be finished, and although my husband wouldn't be able to travel with me, my mother and sister could help watch my children while I was away.

In reality, unforeseen training hurdles piled up like snowdrifts over the past few months.

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