Saturday, March 7, 2015

February Reads...

Not quite as voracious reader as January, but my excuse is February is only 28 days long.

I recently was on a phone call with a writer/author- whom I hope to be in contact with more about learning how to write.  She went through three areas she feels are important in regards to writing: 1. writing- a duh! 2. reading and 3. community (book club, writing group, conferences, blogs, social media content one has written, etc).  The #1- is coming, but will likely be a long uphill learning process.  The #2 I thought I did already, but come to find out I don't really "read with purpose" I read to escape, for entertainment, and do little to none of analysis of what I read.  The #3 I'm working on and doing a good job at it for starters. 

So "reading with purpose".  This "mentor" suggested reading short fiction/short stories to better analyze- easier to really "read with purpose" a short piece vs. a novel.  So I bought "The Art of the Short Story by Dana Gioia and R.S. Gwynn- per her recommendation.  It arrived this week and I look forward to starting my "reading with purpose" journey.

However, I hope to not give up on the dream of reading 90 books this year.  Might be tough to read the books- 90- and "read with purpose".  I will try though.  So here are February reads in no particular order:

"One Dog and His Boy" by Eva Ibottson  I read with daughter.  It was a great story about a boy who wanted a dog.  How materialistic parents tried to appease him with a dog rented for the weekend and what the boy did when he discovered the dog wasn't really his.  It was a tad bit unbelievable, but I think that's why my daughter enjoyed it.  For anyone who enjoys dogs, and kids this is a good read. 

"Exercising Your Soul" by Gary Jansen  was an OK read.  It was based on the Catholic Religion and so I did skip over the two chapters or so on "the stations of the cross" because that isn't something we follow/I know about indepthly in the Lutheran Church.  I enjoyed the following quotes/lines from the book:
-"spiritual living doesn't make you immune to the troubles of life. but it does give you strength" (pg 18)
-"Sin is a big hairy, chafe, naked guy" (pg 36)
- "The promise of this book is to practice certain types of formal prayer so that you move toward a state of living in perpetual prayer" (pg 38)
- "(Contemplation) is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual self...It is spiritual wonder")Thomas Merton.... In essence, contemplation is an experience of God that comes from God". (pg 42)
-"You know what we're critically missing now, more than anything else in the world? Enthusiasm...Ask yourself 'How can I serve?')pg 73)
-"In order for us to be compassionate, we need event if it's only monetarily to imagine we are suffering the pain.  Usually people who have suffered are the most compassionate because they know what it's like" (pg 83)
If any of the above lines speak to you think that you might find this book interesting.

"The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin
I enjoyed this book very much.  It was an interesting story with some interesting characters.  Much of the main setting of the book takes place in a book store, so an added bonus.  I give this book 4 stars. Entertaining story.

"Breaking Night A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard" by Liz Murray.  This was our February book club book.  I found this story to be a true story of perseverance and strength- the kind of inner strength that some of us have and some do not.  Despite a crappy environment to live in as a child with drug addicted, alcoholic, and later AIDS stricken parents Liz Murray prevails.  I thought some of the story could have been elaborated on while other parents of the story seemed to go on and on with utter horrible detail instilling in the reader a true belief that Liz was living in a garbage dump, infested by vermin, lice, no food except eggs and mayo and her entertainment was watching her parents shoot up- their apartment- her home.  I liked it for the sheer reminder of how inner strength can get you a long way. 

"Cover Her Face" (Adam Dangliesh #1) by PD James.  I've never read a mystery by PD James and when she died last year I thought I should read one.  It was just alright.  I was disappointed that Adam Dangliesh didn't have a more leading role in this book.  I felt like he really wasn't the main character, but instead 2-3 of the suspects and of course the main character was the one murdered.  When I googled PD James best books this was one of them, and I know those type of recommendations are just that recommendations, but I was disappointed.  I thought the ending, the murderer revealing was a tad bit anticlimactic and felt like all the questions/clues hadn't been answered.  Onto another mystery, likely not by PD James. 

"Sister Wendy on Prayer" by Wendy Beckett
Goodreads description of Sister Wendy:
Sister Wendy Beckett is a South African-born British art expert, consecrated virgin and contemplative hermit who became an unlikely celebrity during the 1990s, presenting a series of acclaimed art history documentaries for the BBC.
I picked this book up off the "new nonfiction" shelf at the library.  It peaked my interest for figuring out this thing called "prayer".  I felt this book was extremely interesting and the tie in to art was an added bonus.  I didn't get all the answers I need or want on prayer, but I appreciate her few words of wisdom. 

"The Son" by Jo Nesbo
is I believe my first audiobook of the year.  I first got hooked on Jo Nesbo when I listened to "The Snowman" a Harry Hole mystery- #7.  I've read a few and listened to a few and I can say that the ones I've listened to I've enjoyed more now it makes me wonder am I just intrigued by the readers voice, or did I just pick his better written work to listen to?  "The Son" was good, not "The Snowman" good, but I really liked it and this was not a Harry Hole mystery so something a little different.  The story line was well written and I always find his characters interesting.  If you haven't read or listened to one of his books you should!

Well off to another month of reading.  I'm looking forward to reading for entertainment and "purpose" this month. 

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