"there is a book you haven't read?!"

Yesterday I was subbing. I happened to be in a Language Arts classroom, and happened to have a group of "my kids" that are now seniors. They happened to be reading "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin. I was asking them questions about it, knowing the gist of what happens, but then I revealed that I have never read the book.

One of the boys looked at me incredulously and said, "There is a book you haven't read?!"

To which I responded, "Only two. This is one of them."

Clever, aren't I?

All that to say, I have been reading a lot lately and I love it! A friend of mine [hey there, Carrie S.!] recently showed me how to download books to my Kindle from a library and I can't get enough of it! And because I've written about books I've read before HERE [had LOTS of people were interested or asked or read "In Praise of Stay at Home Moms"] and HERE and HERE, I'm here again to share with you some books I've been reading recently:

 I debated even putting this one on here. This is the one I mentioned a little while ago and said I kind of sort of liked it, but would NEVER recommend it. I blushed and cringed my way through it. There were moments of great writing, but mainly so-so writing. Swearing all over the place. Hard to stick with.

I read it. That's about all I have to say about it. If you like suspense and don't mind swearing or other perversities, go for it. I only read it because it was the first book in the online book club I'm participating in.

I guess that's all I have to say about that. I wanted to put it first so I could move on to better books… so here we go.

As you may be able to tell from the cover, this book is slightly outdated, but never the less HILARIOUS. Brent's beloved Grandma Pat [who I think really HAS read every book!] let me borrow some of Bloomingdale's books and they are clever and funny…and written only as a mother of TEN could write them! It's an easy and fun read if you ever need to laugh about the predicaments you find yourself in as a mom.

This is a book that has been on my radar for a few years now, so when I saw it for 50 cents at a thrift store, I snatched it up. I read it very quickly, and it held my interest. The writing is unique, as it is told from five-year-old Jack's point of view. Unbeknownst to him, he and his mom have been locked in "Room" his entire life [and his mom for 7 years]. His mom has worked hard to educate him and love him, but has left out one little secret: there is a whole big world outside of Room. The book is about their life in Room, and what happens when Jack has to come to terms with their situation.

It obviously has some intense subject matter, as kidnapping and abuse are at the forefront of the story, but because it is told from the perspective of a naive five year old, it isn't as harsh. The beauty, for me, in this book was the relationship between the mother and son, but also seeing the world [though tainted] through the eyes of a five year old boy.

Another Grandma Pat book. I had read this years and years ago. Brent vaguely remembered it as well, and so one day when we were going to be in the car awhile I threw it in the bag. I read it out loud and it took us less than two hours from start to finish. We laughed all along the way.

If you've never read the story of the delinquent Herdman family taking over the Christmas pageant at their church, then you should! I think we'll make it a family tradition to read this every year at Christmas, as it is not only funny, but also a great reminder of what is truly center stage at Christmas time: the birth of our Savior.

Since the first book in my little online book club hadn't gone so well, I was very skeptical about starting this one. I for sure wasn't going to purchase it [and hadn't discovered the beauty and ease of library lending to my Kindle…I know, I'm supposed to be hip to stuff like that], so I hunted down a former student who I knew had the book and had liked the book. She lent me her signed copy. Fancy-schmancy.

It is like one of her favorite books ever, so I kind of enjoyed trying to see it through her eyes [a 17 year old girl who is very much like the main girl in the book…]

The book is about Hazel, who has a terminal illness, meeting Augustus, who had cancer but now has a prosthetic leg where his cancer once was. It is about their friendship, their illnesses, a journey they take…and much more. [I'm just going to say "and much more" so I don't give anything away, in case you want to read it].

Overall, I thought the book was great. I felt like the dialogue was witty and fast paced, which I like, but at the same time unrealistic for two teenagers. Nevertheless,  the writing?…fantastic. Any book that quotes Shakespeare and William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens has to be good! At one point Hazel is talking about a favorite book of hers and says: "Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all human beings have read that book." Beautiful. That's exactly how I feel about "To Kill a Mockingbird." :) I didn't necessarily feel that for this book, but I did feel like it was filled with beautiful little nuggets like this throughout its pages [which I devoured in two days…so that says something, I suppose].

This may be a surprise to some of you, but I'm no longer a teenager, so the "love story", though sweet in parts, wasn't life altering for me. And then they sleep together. Two teenagers. I get that they are dying, but I got mad at that part. It didn't need to happen. It didn't make what they had any more special. I think I was mad because I thought about my student who had loaned me the book, and other 17 year olds, reading it. Would I still recommend it for young adults? Yes. But I'll do what I did with my student and speak my piece about this small portion of it! :)
A couple of years ago my sister told me I HAD to read this book. So when I saw it at the same thrift store where I purchased ROOM, and it was only 25 cents[!] I grabbed it up quicker than you could say "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" [which is a mouth full, I will admit].

This story, which unfolds through letters to and from the main character, Juliet, who is a writer, takes place post WWII in England and the Island of Guernsey. Juliet stumbles upon the island and its inhabitants because of a book, and is intrigued by the people and by their book club, which they formed while under German occupation during the war. It is partially a story of their survival, and partially a love story, and partially about people loving good books.

Initially I had a hard time getting into the story and deciphering the characters because of the letter format, but I immediately loved Juliet, and was soon intrigued. By the end I was speed reading, but then realized that that would mean it would be over soon, and I'd have to say goodbye to all the fascinating characters. You know it's been a good book when you can't wait to get to the end but don't ever want it to end.

When our church in Kentucky picked up this book in its bookstore, and later had Mary Beth speak at an event, I was interested in reading it. And then my good friend, Meagan, read it and said she enjoyed it, so I made a mental note. It was the first library book I loaned on my Kindle. I read it in three days. 

For those of you that don't remember or aren't aware, Mary Beth is the wife of Christian Music Artist Steven Curtis Chapman. In the spring of 2008, shortly after I graduated from college and was getting ready to marry Brent, their youngest daughter, Maria, who was five at the time, was killed in their driveway when her older brother, Will, was driving to the garage. This book is about Mary Beth's struggle with losing her daughter, but also with her family's determination to not lose Will in his grief. But it is so much more than that. The first half chronicles her early life and marriage to Steven Curtis, the birth of their three kids, and then how they came to adopt three more daughters from China. 

But at the center of it all is this beautiful and real journey of faith. Mary Beth discusses honestly her doubts and questions and her earth shattering grief over their loss. A fan of her husband's music, I enjoyed hearing the back story to some of the songs he's written over the years, as well.  

I'll never forget in the spring of 2009 driving down to Nashville and attending the Dove Christian Music awards at the Grand Ole Opry with Kali [this was when she helped with the event, as she was working for the Gospel Music Association]. It was a beautiful night of worship, as we listened to top artists in Christian music share their gifts through song, but towards the end of the night Steven Curtis, along with his two sons, took the stage. Not even a year after their tragic loss, they performed the song "Cinderella", which Steven had written about his young daughters. There was not a dry eye in the entire Opry house, and I remember specifically being blessed by the testimony of Will as he played drums in the background. Towards the end of the book, Mary Beth shares some of her journals and blog entries from the year or two after the accident. One entry is from the night of the Dove awards, and she says it is her prayer that others would see Christ in their family; that their family would be a testimony of true faith. I for one can personally say that they were that night. 

Though devastatingly sad, this book is also hopeful and encouraging. I would greatly encourage you to read it, especially if you've ever experienced doubts in your faith, questioned God and not heard an answer, and/or if you have a heart for adoption. 

And what am I reading now? 
I just started "Cutting for Stone". I've heard good things about it, and then Aunt Linda told me she loved it, and then it was one of the books I could borrow from library! I'm only about 30 pages in, but the writing is incredible so far. 

Then I plan to read "When You Reach Me". This came recommended from a fellow book-loving friend, Carrie. I had to put a hold on it at the library, so that has to be a good sign too :). 
I'll try to update you when I finish these… and the rest of the books that fall in my lap before then! 

Have you read any good books lately? What are your recommendations?

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?


Ellen said...

Looove reading books. I have not read any of those, but I have been reading voraciously. I've been reading the Mitford series by Jan Karon and C.S. Lewis' space triolgy, sprinkled with some Anne Lamott. I'm reading Some Assembly Required right now, which is about her becoming a grandma and it is, of course, hilarious and beautiful.

momiss said...

I just finished Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller........I like her writing but her stories never stay with me long. NOT THE CASE with this one. It's about the holocaust. And it is really good.

*carrie* said...

I'm curious to hear what you think of the Stone book--not familiar with that one. As I said before, I don't know if I'm up for Room!

bonbon said...

Guersenery Potato Peel Society was one of very few books I couldn't finish. I didn't like the narrator at all. And it bugged me how she strung that guy along.

Feel so bad how much you hated Gone Girl! I also pretty much hated it, but what are you going to do? Did you read Silver Linings? I'm interested what you thought of it. I trust few people's opinions on book because a lot of people enjoy very poorly written books- that's why I love getting book recommendations from you!