chunks of time

I have been fairly honest about my not-so-wonderful relationship with nursing. I will say this time has been much better though. But this post is not about nursing-- you're welcome-- it is about the ONE thing that I do like about it: 6 or 7 times a day I have to sit down for around 20 minutes…AND READ. [Usually. Sometimes I am singing to Blythe or playing play-doh with one hand, or when things are really crazy wiping a toddler bum whilst feeding…] But at least for a few of those 6 feedings I GET TO READ! And I have been plowing through books. It's so fun! 

All images in this post are from google images

The last post I wrote about a book is HERE

Here are some I've read in the last month or so:

Because I typically write up my own "blurb" about the book and it takes me awhile and I have limited DUAL-NAP time to blog, I'm going to pull all the blurbs from goodreads.com.  All portions in italics are from their website.

Cold Sassy Tree:
"On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin."

 This book was recommended to me by someone who knows my love for To Kill a Mockingbird and The Help/ good southern literature. While I can easily say I didn't enjoy it as much as those two books, it was entertaining in it's own right. It was hard for me to get into; I felt like I kept waiting for the story to begin. Finally about half way through, I was "in it", and enjoyed it from there. The characters are entertaining, and I did fall quite in love with Grandpa Blakeslee.

Breaking Night:
"Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. In school she was taunted for her dirty clothing and lice-infested hair, eventually skipping so many classes that she was put into a girls' home. At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep.

When Liz's mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a New York Times scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League. Breaking Night is an unforgettable and beautifully written story of one young woman's indomitable spirit to survive and prevail, against all odds."

This book has been on my "to read" for awhile. I try to read different genres, and I always love finding a good memoir. This one is incredible. You know the saying: The truth is stranger than fiction. It's hard to believe what young Liz survived, let alone where she ended. As an educator, stories like these are especially illuminating, as I always think of my own students. Even though I'm not currently teaching, I can't help but have that part of my heart touched when I hear stories like Liz's, and realize that teaching students is much more important than covering subjects. I always tried to get to know my student's stories, and even though they may not have understood why some of them were sometimes allowed to rest in my classroom while others were reprimanded for it, this book reminded me why-- I knew for some of them my classroom was one of the only "safe", quiet places they had. I wonder how Liz's story may have been different if some of her early teacher's would have taken the time to get to know her, instead of scolding her for having lice. 

This book was touching in many ways, heartbreaking in many others, and one I would highly recommend if you like memoirs. [I also found the Lifetime movie that was made over her story! Win! :)]

Heaven is for Real:

When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren't expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed--a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy's trip to heaven and back.

Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body during the surgery-and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on. He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in life, sharing events that happened even before he was born. He also astonished his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that matched the Bible exactly, though he had not yet learned to read.

With disarming innocence and the plainspoken boldness of a child, Colton tells of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus, the angels, how "really, really big" God is, and how much God loves us. Retold by his father, but using Colton's uniquely simple words, "Heaven Is for Real" offers a glimpse of the world that awaits us, where as Colton says, "Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses."

 I'm sure you've heard of this book or movie by now. I was hesitant to read it at first, but my mom had just read it and I was stuck nursing in her bedroom one day and picked it up. I was two or three chapters in by the time Becks was done eating and finished it the next night.  It is a quick read, and I definitely had moments of goosebumps. I do believe that God works in mysterious ways, and I do believe in a very real heaven and a very real Jesus who will meet us there. But I just don't know-- I liked the book, but?

Part of the hang up for me was that every time the dad would describe what Colton told him about, he would automatically jump to defending it with something from scripture. Which is fine. I would probably do the same thing if my kid was sharing these experiences, but I felt like that interrupted the story and the writing. I've talked about it before, but my big thing in writing is that the author should trust their readers. I know the dad, Todd, is a pastor, and his role is to teach, but I felt like in automatically sharing his translation and application of what Colton was sharing he took away from the opportunity for me, the reader, to digest it and dissect it myself-- he didn't allow me to go search the scriptures on my own. I don't know, probably a minor detail for most people who will read it.

The first several chapters, though, about their journey to the hospital and their experience there left my heart broken wide open and left me praying for my wisdom as a parent if my children are ever that sick. And if you've read it, the part about the picture of Jesus? Chills. I actually had to shut the book and just be still for moment. It's definitely worth reading and I'm glad I picked it up.

Anne of the Island: 
New adventures lie ahead as Anne Shirley packs  her bags, waves good-bye to childhood, and heads for  Redmond College. With old friend Prissy Grant  waiting in the bustling city of Kingsport and  frivolous new pal Philippa Gordon at her side, Anne tucks  her memories of rural Avonlea away and discovers  life on her own terms, filled with  surprises...including a marriage proposal from the worst fellow  imaginable, the sale of her very first story, and a  tragedy that teaches her a painful lesson. But  tears turn to laughter when Anne and her friends move  into an old cottage and an ornery black cat steals  her heart. Little does Anne know that handsome  Gilbert Blythe wants to win her heart, too. Suddenly  Anne must decide if she's ready for love…

 I shared last time that I was reading the Anne of Green Gables series. I always loved the show growing up, but I never read the entire series. I'm so glad I am now. Just like the previous two, this one is quaint and lovely, and the world of Anne Shirley is a world I want to jump into this very moment. And this book? Oh in this book Gilbert Blythe is even more wonderful.

My time in college was such a good one, and one that shaped me in pivotal ways, so I really enjoyed this time in Anne's life. When I finished it I was ready to start the next one so I downloaded "Anne's House of Dreams" immediately and started. About a fourth of the way through I realized I had skipped over Anne of Windy Poplars [which was written later, but chronologically fits in fourth], so I'm stalling right now and will come back to this series soon.


When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four, chose to stay through the storm to protect his house and contracting business. In the days after the storm, he traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared. Eggers’s riveting nonfiction book, three years in the making, explores Zeitoun’s roots in Syria, his marriage to Kathy — an American who converted to Islam — and their children, and the surreal atmosphere (in New Orleans and the United States generally) in which what happened to Abdulrahman Zeitoun was possible. Like What Is the What, Zeitoun was written in close collaboration with its subjects and involved vast research — in this case, in the United States, Spain, and Syria.

 I have been a Dave Eggars fan since college. [WARNING: he is not for everyone.] Zeitoun was another book on my "to-read" list for quite sometime, but I just kept forgetting about it. I'm glad I remembered it.

The reader quickly falls in love with Zeitoun and his family. I was a sophomore in college when Katrina hit the city of New Orleans, and I still remember so much of the footage and pictures I saw after the storm. I had a friend who had to take a semester off and work down there. So much of Zeitoun's story is horribly tragic, but so much reminds me of the beauty that can be found in most people if we were willing to look. There are portions of this book that border on "political", but it is really well done. Anytime a book makes me start researching googling and thinking about something bigger than the book itself, it's a winner to me.

Loving the Little Years:
I didn't write this book because mothering little ones is easy for me. I wrote it because it isn't. I know that this is a hard job, because I am right here in the middle of it. I know you need encouragement because I do too.

This is not a tender reminiscence from someone who had children so long ago that she only remembers the sweet parts. At the time of writing this, I have three children in diapers, and I can recognize the sound of hundreds of toothpicks being dumped out in the hall. 

This is a small collection of thoughts on mothering young children for when you are motivated, for when you are discouraged, for the times when discipline seems fruitless, and for when you are just plain old tired. 

The opportunities for growth abound here but you have to be willing. You have to open your heart to the tumble. As you deal with your children, deal with yourself always and first. This is what it looks like, and feels like, to walk as a mother with God.

I re-read this little beauty. I did a large post about it HERE when I read it the first time. I think I learned even more this time…or at least different parts spoke to me as I am now a mother of TWO, which also involves parenting a TWO YEAR old. The portion about grabby-hearts making grabby-hands is so spot on for Blythe right now, and I am trying to remind her, like Jankovic does in her book, that the thing is not as important as the person behind it. We have a ways to go, but it is nice to have some tangible ways to look at this parenting thing.

I could write another twenty pages about this book, but I guess just go read my last post :). Trying to remember that the state of my heart is the state of my home. 

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning.

Then it was time to steer away from the non-fiction for awhile. I found a list of "books to read before they become movies." I had already read several, but hadn't heard of this one. And Jennifer Lawerence and Bradley Cooper are to be the Pembertons [Will they be filming every movie together now?] Serena's character is one you love to hate to love to hate to love… ya know what I'm saying? I love how the story jumps between the timber camp and the Pembertons to the mother and son. There were parts of the story-- the logistics and politics of the timber business-- that moved slowly for me. However, it is a unique story with a pretty great ending. I'll stop there so I don't ruin anything. :) [FYI- a little language and some sexual scenes, but nothing that made me overly uncomfortable which means they aren't too bad because I blush pretty easily].

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:
Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter.

I know, I know.  You're either thinking: "You've NEVER read Harry Potter?!" or "I can't believe you would read Harry Potter!" Regardless, I am giving them a go. I feel like I should have read them by now as an English teacher. I'm not a huge sci-fi person, but I did like Lord of the Rings, so I thought, "Let's do this!"

It is definitely a book written for the "young adult/children" audiences, in that the storyline is fast moving and simplistic. But I enjoyed it and it kept me entertained. I don't know how, but I have managed to know nothing about any of the books or movies all these years-- or very little at least, as I am vaguely familiar with the names Hermione and Hogwarts and I knew there was some game in the books involving flying on broomsticks….but that's it. So it was all new to me and Rowling has created a fantastic line up of characters and adventures. I'll keep reading.

Same Kind of Different as Me:
Meet Denver, a man raised under plantation-style slavery in Louisiana in the 1960s; a man who escaped, hopping a train to wander, homeless, for eighteen years on the streets of Dallas, Texas. No longer a slave, Denver's life was still hopeless—until God moved. First came a godly woman who prayed, listened, and obeyed. And then came her husband, Ron, an international arts dealer at home in a world of Armani-suited millionaires. And then they all came together.

But slavery takes many forms. Deborah discovers that she has cancer. In the face of possible death, she charges her husband to rescue Denver. Who will be saved, and who will be lost? What is the future for these unlikely three? What is God doing? 

 It was time to jump back into some nonfiction, and this book caught my eye years ago in the bookstore at our church in Louisville but I just never got my hands on it until now. I'm currently reading it and am really enjoying the dual story telling and the different voices of Denver and Ron as they tell their stories. I am not yet to the point where their lives intertwine, but am enjoying the journey of getting there. Not even half way into this book I can say that I recommend it.

And then what? 
I recently had a friend ask for some recommendations [she wanted something non-fiction and "inspiring"] so I pointed her towards two of my favorites: Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies and Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I devoured both. I have revisited Traveling Mercies many times, but have yet to read Miller's book for a second time, so I think I will do that next.

And THEN I plan on purchasing this beauty: 

I rarely BUY books anymore, but I will most likely buy this for a few reasons: 
A friend of my sister's who I have gotten to know through blogging highly recommended it, and her last recommendation [These Is My Words] instantly won me over, so I trust her judgement. 
Also, it's Elisabeth Elliot. So…duh. You can't go wrong with her. I own many of her books and can recall specific times in my life reading each one. I have read Passion and Purity so many times the pages are literally no longer attached to the binding. 
Also, my library doesn't have it. 

And I am on a very large wait list for All the Light We Cannot See and I believe it is for good reason as I have heard very good things about it! Can't wait! 

Any others I need to add to my list? What have you read this summer? 

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Hannah said...

I really am so glad that you share these snippets of books and what your take on them was. I miss reading good books so it's nice to be able to have some good recommendations. Now I just need to go find them at the library :) Do you read these books on a kindle? I always found it tricky to hold a book to read while nursing, but maybe I was just doing it all wrong. Elisabeth Elliot is wonderful and I would buy a book by her too. I'll have to look for this new one, I haven't even heard of it until just now.

Also, on an unrelated note: how did you go about potty training? Because that is something I am wanting to start and I was just wondering if you had any tips or tricks up your sleeve :)

jenny said...

I'm so glad you find time to read. I feel like I'm just finally getting back into reading after my third kid. Ummm... I need to reread Anne. I love every single one of those books, although I think my favorites were Anne's House of Dreams and Rilla of Ingleside. And yes, get E.E.'s book. Such a good one!!

julie said...

If you're looking for something along the lines of Harry Potter/good story/sort of mindless but entertaining fiction (how's that for a category?), I'm currently reading "Inferno" by Dan Brown (of The da Vinci Code fame) and it's fantastic, a very quick read despite being about 500 pages-ish.

Jared bought me a book called "A Girl is a Half Formed Thing" which I haven't read yet, but is apparently a polarizing book that some people call "innovative" and an "instant classic."

I may have to start reading the Anne of Green Gables books, I've never read them, which is a shame!

bonbon said...

Have you read bringing up bebe? I read that while pregnant and totally loved it. It's about the French style of parenting - lots of freedom within very strict parameters. I found it fascinating. Also I have to know how do you get all your books? You must have a fantastic library.