Thursday, May 18, 2017

April Reads

Sometimes I wonder why I feel the need to write about the books I read.  I think it is just another way I can "talk" with friends/family/strangers about my love of reading. Even if the books I read I don't really like I can pull some redeeming qualities from them- well maybe not "Mrs. Dalloway". I think talking about what we read is just an added bonus of the reading process.  Hope you enjoy the book "talk" below.  As always welcome any comments, suggestions, or feedback if you have read some of this month's reads or know of others I need to add to my TBR (to be read) shelf. 
Station Eleven
I was hearing a lot about this book.  I heard about if first on a podcast I listen to (What Should I Read Next).  Many of those interviewed on the podcast were saying they liked this book a lot. Then one of my Bookies gave it 4 stars on GoodReads  (her and I tend to read and like similar books).  Some were talking about it compared to "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy- which I really liked.  Lastly our local library was having a book discussion about it.  So I picked it up and I really just didn't like it.  It is apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, present day and flashback, many characters, and I just didn't enjoy it.  I'm sure I'm just not smart enough to like it :). 

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
This is so far my favorite Bookie book for the 2016-2017 year.  As we are getting ready to celebrate our 15 year anniversary of the Bookies I am just so thankful this book was brought into my life.  It is a serious story, serious topic, and just down right unbelievable, but at the same time believable because of how crazy our world and the people in it are.  The book chapters are written from the perspective of many different characters laced throughout the story. I liked reading and seeing the story from multiple character's eyes.  The protagonist of the book young, 8 years of age, Wavy falls in love with a 18 year old Kellen.  The relationship develops throughout the book and the discussion of age among lovers  was a hot topic at our book club.  I soon got over their age difference because I felt Kellen was Wavy's savior.  Wavy's life is utter crap: druggie and mentally ill mom, father who is a meth dealer and ignores her existence, insinuation that mental, physical and possible sexual abuse has occurred for Wavy.  The author's writing was clean, intriguing, and this was a page turner. This book is a great reminder of how truly remarkable life can be and how perseverance can shine through the worst situations.

Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home
"Prayer" was our Lenten read for our church.  I was really looking forward to this read because I don't do prayer/praying well. I was wanting an Anne Lamott tutorial on prayer, not the one I received from Richard Foster.   I thought this book was just OK.  Parts of the book, last 1/2 especially, were  just too theological for me- again maybe I missed out on some good stuff because I'm not super theological. It was a "dry" book. However, there were some good parts of the book, mainly the beginning of the book- more underlines and note taking found there. Here are just a few lines that did really speak to me- so not totally "bad" book. 
pg 22- It is not that we disbelieve in God, but more profoundly we wonder what kind of God we believe in.
pg 67- We gain freedom in anything through commitment, discipline and fixed habit.

Paris for One and Other Stories
I love Jojo Moyes, but alas I didn't really like this book.  Partly I think because I'm not a huge fan of short stories.  I always want more, especially if I like the story as I did with the main one called Paris for One.  The other stories were just "meh".  I feel like I'm talking about one of my best buddies badly by writing I didn't enjoy this book, but it just didn't have what I normally love about her novels- character development, twists, good plot- all likely due to the constraints of when you write a short story. 

Today Will Be Different
I really enjoyed this book.  Eleanor, main character, wants things to be different. That speaks to me as I would like some things in my life to be different, but how does one go about making that difference occur.  Read this book to find out what happened to Eleanor, her husband Joe, and her son Timby.  It is written in a somewhat satirical/snarky tone at times which brings some comedy to some tough subjects: dysfunctional family, religion, parenting, and general life relationships.  The following is the first page of the book and it felt like I was reading something I could have wrote about myself- switching a few names- had me hooked from get go.

Today will be different.  Today I will be present.  Today, anyone I speak to, I will look them in the eye and listen deeply.  Today I'll play a board game with Timby.  I'll initiate sex with Joe.  Today I will take pride in my appearance.  I'll shower, get dressed in proper clothes, and change into yoga clothes only for yoga, which today I will actually attend.  Today I won't swear.  I won't talk about money.  Today there will be a n ease about me.  My face will be relaxed, its resting place a smile.  Today I will radiate calm.  Kindness and self-control will abound.  Today I will buy local.  today I will be my best self, the person I'm capable of being.  Today will be different. 

The Wednesday Wars

Another book I kept on hearing brought up in either podcasts or amongst reader friends.  I had never heard of it, but the story line was intriguing.  Middle school grade boy and Presbyterian Holling Hoodhood is the only student in his class that doesn't have either catechism or classes at synagouge to attend on Wednesday afternoons. So while the rest of his classmates are bussed off for their religion classes he stays behind for that last hour of class time in the school day.  He pretty much knows his teacher has it out for him because she can't have a "free hour" because he has to stay in class with her.  So as his punishment he has to read Shakespeare and have book discussions or write papers on the works of William.  However, what occurs on Wednesday afternoons is more than learning Shakespeare.  The story takes place during the late 60's an historical perspectives are brought into this story.  I really enjoyed it and reading it was more enjoyable because my son read it too.  We both talked about the story and the characters. I feel indebted to any author who allows me some one on one book discussion time with my children.  Thanks Gary Schmidt for making that happen.

I loved "Eleanor and Park" written by Rainbow Rowell.  So when I was perusing the YA audiobook section at the local library and saw this I put it in my bag.  It was a great audiobook.  Premise is Cath, an identical twin, is getting ready to go off to college at the beginning of the book and finds out that her  and her twin sister won't be roommates at college.  Cath's world starts to turn a little upside down then and signs of high introversion are noted from the first pages of the book. However, Cath does have a huge source of "friends" via a social media site that allows her to write fan fiction.  Fan Fiction is when a person can write about characters already developed  based on another author's story- think about someone continuing to write the story of Harry Potter or side stories of  Harry Potter, but isn't JK Rowling.  Through the story Cath has to cope and change, which so many of us remember doing our freshman year in college.  I really enjoyed this book. A+ for Rainbow Rowell

What an amazing month of reading.  Some books that really challenged me: Prayer and Station Eleven, and some books that just remind me of the pure joy of reading/listening to good story telling: All The Ugly and Wonderful Things, and FanGirl

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