Sunday, February 1, 2015

January Reads

Do I read for enjoyment?   Do I read to educate myself?  Do I read to be better read? Do I read for "free therapy"?  Do I read to connect with people, my children, my husband, my friends and family?
Do I read so I can learn to write? Do I read to escape?  Do I read every night before bed because I just sleep better than?

Yes.  Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

My questions and answers could go on and on.  A friend recently was going through a tough time and I asked her how she was getting through.  One of her answers was books.  She was using books to counsel her on how to get through this tough time.  In fact she stated- "I don't know what I'd do without books".  Exactly!

So my reading year of 2015 has begun.  Here are the books I read either by myself or with the kids this month.  Some were excellent and some were Meh! But I honestly can say I think I gleamed something from each and everyone of them.  In no particular order:

Confessions of an Amateur Believer by Patty Kirk
Nonfiction read on a lady who grew up in the catholic church, had some tough life things happen in her teenage years (parents divorced, mom became mentally ill due to a tumor in her brain, author experienced a sexual assault- never went into detail but this event made her "flee her home" and run to other countries to figure out life: Hong Kong, Bejing, Germany, etc), she then ends up falling in love with a man who prays daily and attends church on regular basis and does daily acts that equate being Christian (in my definition of Christian- helps neighbors out, is civil and loving to others including family, etc).  So she falls in love with him and they end up having two girls who sound like everyday girls who know how to challenge their mama in their own ways.  She becomes a born-again Christian (this title has never set well with me, don't know why, but those were her descriptive words.  I think I don't like the title, because I don't think you are ever born-again.  I think people just came back around to faith, God, etc).  Anywhoo- I read it to add to my quest for better understanding of my big religious questions.  I didn't get them all answered, but I felt she addressed some of them so left me feeling less out in left field wondering these things.  For instance, Anne Frank was a Jew and she died during the Holocaust.  We all know her story.  Well the authors daughters were talking about the book/story and one stated to her mother (paraphrased)- Mom I don't think God would be so mean to not have Anne Frank go to heaven even though she is a Jew and doesn't believe in Jesus.  Mother agreed and so again I had some validation of my crazy thought of maybe all of us end up in the same place after this life on earth.   So good read- not the best- I didn't crazily write down sentences or quotes I was reading during the read, but overall nice look at someone's life process.

The Mysterious Woods of Whistle root by Christopher Pennell
I read this book with my oldest and we enjoyed it.  The main character Carly is spunky, adventurous and investigative.  She has been burdened with being not able to sleep at night and only during the day and so this sleep pattern doesn't really allow her to be "normal" like the other kids in her class.  She also is an orphan, which sometimes I wonder why it seems so many main characters in children's chapter books are orphans.  She befriends a mouse who plays music, specifically the fiddle, on her Aunt's homes rooftop at night and that is where the journey and mystery of Whistle Root Woods begins.  Overall I thought it was just O.K.  At times I felt there were some missing pieces within the story and struggled to see all the connections, but it was a good read with my fourth grader.

Reading and Writing: A Personal Account by V.S. Naipaul
I was eleven, no more, when the wish came to me to be a writer; and then very soon it was a settled ambition.
This line is what drew me to the book.  The author is dealing with accomplishing being a writer living in India, then England and how to mesh it all. His father was a journalist so he knew about writing, but I felt that the journalists life was not what the author felt his father and of course he should shoot for. 

This excerpt also struck me as very inciteful.  He talked about how some of the classics in writing didn't speak to him, but for instance he received creative insite by going to the "cinema" instead.
As a child trying to read, I had felt that two worlds separated me from the books that were offered to me at school and in the libraries: the childhood world of our remembered India, and the more colonial world of our city. ... What I didn't know, even after I had written my early books of fiction ... was that those two spheres of darkness had become my subject. Fiction, working its mysteries, by indirections finding directions out, had led me to my subject. But it couldn't take me all the way. -V.S. Naipaul
It was a quick read, really it was an essay bound in a book, but I do think that if I want to write reading about writers and their process is indeed helpful. 

I Suck At Girls by Justin Halpern
The second book for Justin.  His first Sh*t my Dad Says was HILARIOUS!  We read it for book club many moons ago and I just couldn't stop laughing.  This one wasn't quite as hilarious, but it was a comical read and made me laugh, which I think everyone needs more of in their lives. My husband and I have been trying to read books together and then discuss- like a mini-book club. We read this one and enjoyed it, but didn't have a lot to discuss on it.  We both agreed that when the "dad" was written into the story it was much funnier that when "dad" was absent.  I will definitely read another Halpern book when it comes out.  I'd like to see one when he has kids and is a dad. 

The Four Doors by Richard Paul Evans
Another quick read, short book, but nice. Nonfiction read on making your life better.  I don't think I got as much as I thought I was going to out of reading this book because I struggled to remember exactly what it was about.  I can tell when a book really sticks with me or got into my noggin and this one wasn't one, however, others have really drawn from this book so if interested in any of the four points below it may be something you want to pick up.

The doors represent the principles that will create change in your life.
#1 Believe there is a reason you were born. You are important.
#2 Free yourself from Limitation, You can do anything you set your mind to.
#3 Magnify your Life. Live everyday as if it were your last day on earth.
#4 Develop a Love-centered Map. Love is all that matters.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
This was our book club read and I really enjoyed it.  It was a well written story with great characters full of all sorts of depth.  The story isn't a feel good story and I hesitate to say too much as I don't want to give the story away.  Just read it! 
Also- just found out that Spielberg owns the rights to the book and is making it into a movie. Will be interesting to see who he puts in the characters parts as I already have a visual on what the main characters look like. 

The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
My oldest and I read this one together.  We are trying to start a kid's book club at church and so this was our first book picked.  Fun/magical story about a boy- an orphan (big surprise)- who is taken in by a magician as his apprentice.  This is the first in four books thus from our local author and so I think I will read further books in this series.  It wasn't too heavy or dark, aka Harry Potter, but had enough intrigue to keep me and the fourth grader engaged.  For book club I'm thinking of making Bennet's biscuits (one of the character's biscuits recipes is shared at the end of the book), discuss and do some sort of craft in connection with the book- make our own "locus magicalicus" (magic stone). 

I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Lorretta Nyham
Great book!  Here are my comments I posted earlier this month.  I just couldn't wait until the end of the month to post them.
 These two authors have put together a wonderful story of friendship between two women who have never met, but through letters.  The two main characters are both wives of military men, and one has a son who is also in the armed forces during WWII.  There are no chapters, just letters.   I found it a great read, and even more interesting was to find out at the end of the book that the two authors have never met in person.  They met via a blog.  Decided to write a book together based on letters and as of the publishing date still had never officially met in person- Amazing!
My favorite book of Jan 2015.

Snowball (The Puppy Place #2) by Ellen Miles
My daughter and I read this one together and it was perfect.  It is a great series for my little one who loves animals especially dogs.  We will never have a dog, so until she is an adult and can have her own place and puppy (a plan has arisen where she and my niece are going to live together and raise their two dogs together when they are grownups).  Cute story about rescuing a puppy named Snowball and finding him a home. 

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Sherlock Holmes is old and retired and he meets a young lady named Mary Russell and takes her under his wing.  This was a book hubby and I started and he almost didn't finish.  The writing style, Victorian language, got to him.  Although a mystery it was a mystery of Holmes era.  Not today's mysteries which are very graphic, violence filled, along with recreational drugs, etc.  I enjoyed it and will likely go on to read the next one.  However, husband won't be joining me on the journey. 

Onward to February!  Happy Reading Friends!

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