Tuesday, October 7, 2014

what i read: september edition


I've decided to get in on the Read Your Shelves action because, well, I have more books on our shelves that I haven't read than I have... Don't mind the three that are coming from Amazon in the next few days.

I keep telling myself that I'm going to stop buying and just get to reading, but, as I finish two or three, I find myself lusting after two or three more... Plus, it turns out there's a whole bunch of readers in the world and what good are you as a reader if you aren't recommending something. I take recommendations to heart, as in immediately put them in my Amazon cart.

We're trying to save, especially with a vacation on the books this month, so that said, READ. MY. SHELVES.


In college everyone said that if Jason was a dog he'd undoubtedly be a golden retriever. Anyone who's spent time with him would surely agree -myself at the top of that list. So, since I haven't spent enough time gushing over him the last month, I decided his "spirit animal" would go ahead and provide all GIF-tertainment (I just made that up, believe it or not) for this month's book reviews.
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by Susannah Cahalan 

"We are, in the end, a sum of our parts, and when the body fails, all the virtues we hold dear go with it."

This is hauntingly good. Hauntingly. Because it could be you or me or your best friend or your boyfriend. And seeing the way her family and her doctors fought for her was beautiful beyond words. Cahalan is a reporter for the New York Post when her month of madness sets on and disables her completely. Despite her inability to remember parts of the month, her reporting instincts kicked in upon her return to health and she began gathering doctor's notes, family and friends journals, videos, and the like to piece together the missing parts. And, so, a book. 

While the book deals with dry medical information, Cahalan injects such an energy into the facts that it feels personal, as though a friend is suffering while you look on. Initially I was nervous about reading because of our family's many scary experiences with my dad's brain and disease. However, I found myself inspired and encouraged by the way her family gathered around her, fought for her despite the doctor's apathy, and remained faithful to the woman she was prior to her illness. They remind us that family is more than just a genetic link, but a die-hard devotion. 

by Liane Moriarty 

"They would think she was savoring the taste (blueberries, cinnamon, cream-excellent), but she was actually savoring the whole morning, trying to catch it, pin it down, keep it safe before all those precious moments became yet another memory."

HONEST MOMENT: I struggled through the first 50 pages of this and was about to put it down when I realized that we were on our anniversary weekend away and that wasn't an option. So, push on. And then, by page 60 I'd fallen in love with the book and absolutely needed to know how things were going to turn out for Alice.

You'll spend the opening chapters working tirelessly to figure out what exactly is going on between the characters, only to realize that it's mimicking the mental state of Alice, the forgetter. After a quick fall at the gym and loss of a decade of memory, you realize that life as Alice knows it looks entirely different than she remembers. Slowly things begin to piece together. You move from a state of confusion to a place of honest interest and concern for Alice and her family (who she doesn't know she has).

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Wonder
by R.J. Palacio 

"If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God."

Yes this is technically a "kid's" book. Yes it's so easy to read and the crayon writing on the cover sort of feels like it isn't going to offer anything to an adult. BUT. (And that's a big but.) It is rich. Beautifully, wonderfully rich. It's a reminder that every single one of us are fighting a hard battle, that we're all capable of making the choice to be kind or to be cruel. It's a reminder that we're more than our looks, our health, our bodies, but are, in fact, souls with hearts and feelings despite our age, gender, upbringing.

August, the main character, is a middle-school age boy with severe facial deformities that are not fixable with operation. There were moments I mourned for August and his family, and times that I was proud of their boldness. The book is written from the perspective of several different people, but all commentary revolves around August and their relation to him. I finished the novel with the hopes of bringing a little more kindness, a little more joy, and a lot less judgment to any and every table while realizing we all have our own scars, though they might not always be visible. In having scars, people will notice them, comment on them, and, while we might want to lash out, grace is far more beautiful than any damage free person.

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Women of the Word 
by Jen Wilkin

"Specifically, our pleasure increases in something when we learn its history, origin, and deeper nature. This is particularly relevant to Christians. We are called to be a people who delight ourselves in the Lord, who can say with conviction that "at your right hand are pleasures forever more" (Psalm 16:11)." 

I know that I already shamelessly plugged this last Friday in my Milking Stool Ministry post, BUT it's that good, that faith and earth and bible study changing. So, I shall talk bout it again. For the most part, I've been good at reading my bible and making time for Him. However, bible study was about finding comfort, about Him saying what I wanted to hear, about me getting a little boost -like my morning coffee- in my day.

Wilkin challenged every ounce of my thought process about bible study. She granted me peace in my heart and my attitude, but begged me to use my brain, to be smart, thoughtful, intentional in my relationship with Him. She says I dare you. Dare you to know Him, lean into Him, spend honest to goodness time with Him. And, I wasn't doing that, I was spending time making His words fit my agenda... Something all too easy to do with His words.

If you're going to buy a single book this month, this. is. it. 

And you guys know that I'm a huge fan of one extra for the road... Redefining (and doing so much justice to) the ice bucket challenge right here:
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24 comments:

  1. Adding Women of the Word to my list!

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  2. Oh man, those dogs are just too cute! And I'm loving your list x

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  3. I am like Chelsea and adding Women of the Word to my list too! Wonderful reviews!

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  4. I love your suggestions and always feel like we've got pretty similar taste! Brain on Fire LOOKS SO GOOD.

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  5. Those all sound awesome! I really liked What Alice Forgot. I think I read it in two days. Like you, I just had to figure out what she forgot. I thought it was a cool look at how we should not get so caught up in keeping up appearances because that can destroy relationships. I don't have any kids, yet, but I am sure the struggle gets a lot harder if your priorities are not in order.

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  6. Man girl, you did some reading!! Loved reading your thoughts on books! I absolutely resonated with your opening paragraph about your book issues ;) I'm right there with you! I recently got Women of the Word and I'm excited to dig into it - thanks for fueling the fire! SO glad you linked up with us! :)

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  7. I'm so glad I'm about to be unemployed so I can read all of these! YAYYYYYYYYY!

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  8. Several of these are on my wish list...thank you for sharing!! Love finding new books to read!

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  9. Wonder just made me cry and cry and cry. It was so good, and I want all my middle school kiddos to read it!

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  10. I can't wait to read What Alice Forgot now!
    I read Brain on Fire a couple years ago and remember really enjoying it. I wanted to know how she managed to come back from something so devastating to her and her family. I was impressed by the way the medical jargon was handled - it didn't feel overwhelming or impossible to read, I thought!

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  11. Man, I'm impressed! You did a lot of reading and I feel like I would love all four of these books. I love the themes of vulnerability and real-life-ness throughout all four books. Great reviews!

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  12. Girl, you are on a roll with reading! I really wish I had more time, but, alas, school and work and everything else always seems to come first. I'm in the same boat as you, though... I have way too many unread books on my shelf!

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  13. Going to check out several of these books! The dog GIFs are too cute :)

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  14. I'm loving the fact that you're about to be in the US... Though I'm sad that doesn't include CA. NEXT TIME?!?

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  15. You'll love it. The author's passion to equip women to read AND engage with the bible is every ounce of encouraging that you didn't even realize you needed.

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  16. It is SO GOOD in a you need the whole thing to be read before you realize what you just went through with her and the way it changes every ounce of the way you feel about your brain and your body and, well, everything.

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  17. Was the beginning so confusing? I was so frustrated, SO FRUSTRATED, at first and then when I finally started to catch on I realized the author's choices were so intentional but SO MUCH FRUSTRATION. There were so many morals to extract from it and every one was just as beautiful and applicable to life as the next.

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  18. I have been really dedicated to taking some time for a good ol' book lately... Though I get all pouty and sad when that time is interrupted! :)


    The books are overflowing from our shelves and I need to stop getting more and read what I've got but EVERYONE has so many awesome recommendations I just can't help myself.

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  19. YOU CAN AND THEN YOU CAN TELL ME ALL ABOUT THEM.

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  20. VULNERABILITY. Yes, I didn't really even realize that, but that's absolutely the thread that moves through them... I've been trying to connect all the books I read in a given month to one another in the name of critical thinking... :)

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  21. Girl school and work was ALWAYS something that kept me from being able to get into good books before... But no school and more steady schedules nowadays I really enjoy the chance to slow down in the evenings and get into a good read. :)

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  22. DO IT! :) And then, of course, come back and tell me what you think.

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  23. And now they're that much more wished for right?!? :)

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