December 2021 Reading Update

December 2021 Update

posted in: Personal Essay, Photography, Reading, Writing | 0

The tentative optimism that developed from the time Holly and I had gotten vaccinated late in the spring withered when we hit December thanks to the emergence of the Omicron variant. Luckily, we had gotten our booster shots in November so Omicron isn’t quite as concerning for us as it could have been. It is distressing, to say the least, that we’re back in a situation where there are so many new cases per day. The 7-day moving average of new cases as of this writing is about 491,000. Previously, the moving average peaked at about 250,000 cases last January. It’s hard to believe that during the summer we almost dipped under 10,000 cases per day.

We feel fortunate that we had gotten to do some things during the summer and early fall. Theoretically, since we’ve gotten our booster shot, we should be fairly well-protected against Omicron, but we’re content to keep a low profile during the winter and hope things take a turn for the better in the spring.

We took advantage of indoor dining early in December for Holly’s birthday.

We went to lunch at Second District Brewing. They require proof of vaccination which gave some peace of mind. It was also nearly empty which also made it comfortable. As usual, all my dining out photos were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S9+.

That night, we went to Vedge which also requires proof of vaccination. We had gotten delivery from them last year for her birthday which was good, but it was nice to be able to eat there in person.

After that outing, we decided to take a break from indoor dining for the foreseeable future. We did return to Second District Brewing on New Year’s Eve for lunch again. That time, we sat outside.

Christmas was fairly quiet. Being cautious, we canceled the plans we had made with my brother. We did get out for some walks specifically looking for Christmas decorations.

Taken with my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV using my Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 lens:

Philly Christmas 2021
Philly Christmas 2021

Taken with my Olympus TG-5:

Santa Claus
Santa Claus

Taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000 using my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 lens and Kodak Color Plus film:

Christmas Wreaths at Tenth Presbyterian Church
Christmas Wreaths at Tenth Presbyterian Church

We also finally bought a Christmas tree after being in our apartment for 10 years without one. We have a smallish apartment so most trees would be too large. I had seen a tree available from Crate and Barrel that was quite thin so we decided to get it. We were very glad we did since it really brightened up the apartment and provided some additional cheer among all the bad news of the world.

Over the years, we collected a few Christmas ornament so we were able to decorate the tree. Many of the ornaments have a local flavor. It was fun being able to put them on a tree rather than our usual placing them on our windowsill and other places.

These photos were also taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000 but with my Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens:

You can see all my Christmas and winter break photos in my Flickr album.


Obviously, I covered some of my photography above but otherwise, I have fallen behind with posting about my photography adventures. I still have 3 recently developed rolls of film I would like to post about. I also broke out my light box to take picture of some of our Christmas gifts. I still haven’t taken a close look as to how they turned out, but if they look good, I’ll want to post about those as well.

I did catch up a little during December:


The big writing news from the month was getting my story, No One Way Things Happen, published in Monday Night.

I’m glad the year ended with that bit of good news as I don’t otherwise have much to show for my efforts. I had worked on some new stories the first half of the year but spent a lot of the second half of the year bogged down with a lot of perfunctory revising. Not that that’s a bad thing. It needed to be done, but it didn’t feel like forward momentum.

I did continue paying a fair amount of attention to this blog. I didn’t post quite as often as I had last year (54 posts in 2021 vs. 63 posts in 2020), but my traffic was a little better (4,003 visits vs. 3,787).

I also dusted off our food and travel blog, SimpleGoodness, with posts about our California trip, our Staycation, and Thanksgiving. I find it hard to post there consistently since I have other higher priority creative endeavors. Although I enjoy having a record of what we’ve done, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort to have a separate blog for that.

We did a lot of really great home cooking over our winter break so I need to decide soon whether or not I want to post about that over on SimpleGoodness.


Short Stories

I continued diligently reading the weekly stories published in The New Yorker. I enjoyed both Kate Walbert’s Marriage Quarantine and Colin Barrett’s A Shooting in Rathreedane but I found Madeleine Thien’s Lu, Reshaping and Adam Levin’s A Lot of Things Have Happened to be particularly good.

Short Stories Read in 2021

In 2021, I read 72 stories.


I finished 2 books in December and ended the year having read 47 books, which is the 2nd most I’ve ever read in a year behind the 48 I finished in 2019.

I read Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, for the 2nd time. I remember loving it the 1st time and I’m happy to say I also loved it the 2nd time. I picked it up again in anticipation of the TV series. I watched 3 episodes and lost interest.

I also read Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds. I hadn’t read anything by Hannah before but have been curious for a while since many of her other books have gotten great reviews. I did like The Four Winds. It focused on a family dealing fleeing from Texas to California during The Great Depression and The Dust Bowl. There was a trying stretch of the book where the family had to deal with one tragedy after another, but it was a good read overall.

I ended the year by starting a re-read of The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I have read it several times but not since the movies came out, the last of which was released 18 years ago.

December 2021 Reading Update
December 2021 Reading Update

Books Read in 2021

In 2021, I read 47 books:

This Creative Midlife Posts in 2021 Posts in 2021

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