A Good 2018, A Better 2019

books year 2018The year 2019 started a little differently, with my mom and I struggling to get over jet-lag. Now that my sleep is more or less back to normal, I can write my obligated annual “good-better” post. It is quite overdue…

I failed to accomplish most goals I set out at the beginning of 2018, but it was a very good and productive year nonetheless.

  • Read 50 books – at least 5 in Chinese, at most 25 in audio format. Not done. I only finished 48 books but I could argue that with 1,440 pages, Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ should count as three books. 🙂 Only 2 of the 48 books were in Chinese; and 6 were non-audio books. Here are the quarterly book reports: Q1; Q2; Q3; Q4.
  • Visit 5 new countries – Done. And some more. I visited 9 new countries this year! Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore.
  • Swim 50 times; yoga at home everyday. Not done. I met slightly less than half of the swimming goal, and yoga at home even less. I did attend 8 hot yoga classes though, which were much more strenuous than the home practice. 🙂 On average I walked 7,317 steps a day, the highest in recent years. This compensated somewhat for my failed exercise goals.
  • Publish 30 blog posts; write at least 3 full-length travel articles in Chinese. Not done. I only published 16 posts on this blog, and wrote 1.5 Chinese travel articles. 😦 Definitely need to write more in 2019!
  • Learn to cook 3 new dishes. Done. I successfully cooked two new dishes (one pork, one chicken) using my Crock pot. I also learned a dish or two from my mother during the last week of the year (and a few more in the new year. :))
  • Lose 5 pounds. Not done by a wide margin! I actually gained 7 pounds in 2018. I blame it on two wonderful cruises, both times followed by a trip to China. I guess this coming year I should aim to lose 12 pounds…

There is a good reason why I deviated a bit from my goals – 2018 was a year of big change. I started A New Journey, by taking a break from work to travel and spend more time with family and friends. With 88 days away from home, I wasn’t able to carry out read/write/swim/cook routines as usual. At one point I was four books behind schedule, and gaining weight was not surprising at all.

That said, this journey has been very rewarding so far. I did two cruises with Windstar, which gave me the 9 new countries. Plus a 2000-mile road trip in US Northwest from Crater Lake to Glacier National Park via Columbia River Gorge. Awesome trips, great memories.

I also spent quite a lot of time with my family and many friends during two trips back to China (Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong); also with David’s family from three road trips to New England. Starting from Christmas Eve is my mom’s three-month visit in US. I really enjoy and cherish our time together – chatting, walking, exercising, shopping, cooking…


It is rather difficult to predict what is in store for me in 2019. Besides, it is a little late to think about new year’s resolution. Therefore I am not setting any goals except the usual 50-book challenge on Goodreads. Just let the fun continue, and I will report back on the first day of 2020 what transpired…

Happy New Year!



Books read in 2018 Q1

It is time to post the first book report of 2018, one day early since I don’t plan to finish another book today. My goal this year is to read 50 books, 25 of which in non-audio format and 5 in Chinese. I finished 12 books in Q1; 3 of which I actually read as opposed to listening, and no Chinese books yet. A little behind schedule but I am still quite optimistic that I could catch up.

Here are the books I finished in the first quarter:

  1. Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America by David J. Kent
  2. Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire by Diana Preston & Michael Preston
  3. The Last Child by John Hart
  4. Mr. Muo’s Travelling Couch by Dai Sijie
  5. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
  6. 5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth and Other Useful Guides by Matthew Inman, the Oatmeal
  7. A Mathematician’s Apology by G.H. Hardy & C.P. Snow (Foreword)
  8. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  9. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
  10. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant
  11. The Door to December by Dean Koontz
  12. The Twelfth Imam by Joel C. Rosenberg

As usual, the books on this list are quite diverse in terms of genre, time frame, and author’s gender and nationality. I really enjoyed seven books on this list, especially #1, #3, and #9. I don’t like #4 and #6 and only gave them 2 stars on Goodreads.

Keep reading… till the next report. 🙂

Books 2018Q1

A Good 2014, A Better 2015

Thinking back, I accomplished quite a few things in 2014 outside work. I read 40 books and watched 36 movies; I published 50 posts here viewed by people from 35 countries; I visited a new country Argentina and it was the first time I ever set foot to the south of equator; I checked off 3 National Parks from my list; I started painting (Chinese brush, watercolor, Acrylic); and I lost about 5 lbs. All in all I am glad how the year turned out.

Here are a few things on my to-do list for 2015, in addition to the daily routine:

  • Read 45 books, at least 12 of them have to be from my book shelves at home
  • Visit at least 3 new countries and 2 new National Parks
  • Join a gym and swim twice a week, try to add in one class as well
  • Publish at least 50 posts on this blog
  • Do at least 5 paintings. Small exercise pieces don’t count
  • Learn to cook at least 3 new dishes that I feel comfortable sharing with others

Happy New Year, everyone! Looking forward to a wonderful and exciting 2015!