July Reads and August Book Goals

I read seven books last month. It was not a month full of books I think you should run out and get.

A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio. This book is by the woman behind the blog Fat Girl Running. I loved her blog. I did not love the book. It felt disjointed and awkward. I give it two stars out of five.

Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West. This book did the unthinkable: it had me rooting for a fictional high school basketball team. I loved every character in this book. I want there to be a TV show about this town, or several more books about the characters. I loved this one. I give it five out of five stars.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I had heard remarkable things about this book, so I was excited to pick it up. I was drawn into it and couldn’t put it down. I finished it in one day. That being said, I have no idea how I actually feel about this book. I can’t get my head around it. I give it three out of five stars.

Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven. Life advice from a Navy Seal. This book is full of good advice. None of it is rocket science. It would be a good gift for any graduate in your life. I give it three out of five stars.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan. Like Sing, Unburied, Sing, I had high hopes for this book from the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Perhaps my high hopes are what kept me from loving this novel about a robotics programmer turned bread baker. I thought the book was fine. It did get me thinking about making sourdough again, but other than that it left me uninspired. I give it two out of five stars.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M Draper. This is a Young Adult novel about a girl with severe Cerebral Palsy. I usually like reading YA novels, but I felt too old to be reading this one. I think I would have loved this book if I had read it in Jr. High. I give this one two out of five stars.

In The Footsteps of Sheep: Tales of a Journey Through Scotland, Walking, Spinning, and Knitting Socks by Debbie Zawinski. Well, thanks a lot, Debbie, now I want to walk and camp across Scotland meeting sheep and knitting.  I give this book four out of five stars.

This month I have a big stack of books to get through. Not pictured are the two books I ordered from Book of the Month Club this month.20180802_1244303648055488055510932.jpg

What are you reading this month? Do you have any good book suggestions?

June Reads and July Book Goals

In June I read nine books. All I wanted to do with my down time is read. I have so many books to recommend this month.

Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World by Christina Rickardsson. It isn’t often that I read a book where the sexual assault of a child is not the worst thing that happens to the protagonist. This book, about a girl growing up in the slums of Brazil until she moves to live with her adopted parents in Sweden, is incredibly depressing. I dreaded each chapter, because something awful was going to happen to her. It makes me wish I was doing something to help the children of Brazil. I would only read this one if you want to be horrified. I give this book two out of five stars.

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey. This book was surprisingly interesting. I do not agree with the decisions James Comey made, but I believe he thought he was making the best decision possible. I do not envy his position. I have much more respect for him after reading this book. I give this book five out of five stars.

So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta. True confession: I will read any book written by a Parks and Recreation cast member. This book was very funny. Reading it filled me with joy, and as I had just finished Comey’s book when I picked this up it was exactly what I needed. I give this book four out of five stars.

Everyone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center. I picked this book up because I enjoyed How to Walk Away (by the same author) so much last month. This book is predictable in a good way. It was a sweet. story about a marriage and personal growth.  It was like a cup of hot apple cider on a crisp fall day – comforting  after a rough day. I really enjoy how Katherine Center writes. I give this book three out of five stars.

Your Dad Stole My Rake by Tom Papa. I had high hopes from this book, a collection of humorous essays by a contributor to the show formally known as Prairie Home Companion. There were parts that were funny, but his attitude towards gender turned me off. I gave this book one out of five stars.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I have no idea how Celeste Ng creates a story so rich and believable you live both in the story and in your real life until you finish the book. She did it with Little Fires Everywhere and with this book. I will be picking up every book she writes. It is wonderful read about the death of a biracial student in the late 70s. Just trust me. I can’t describe it in a way that makes it sound excellent. I give this book five out of five stars.

Knitting Ephemera: A Compendium of Articles, Useful and Otherwise, or the Edification and Amusement of the Handknitter by Carol J. Sulcoski. This book was basically a bathroom book for knitters. If I ran a B&B for knitters it would be on the bedside table. It’s fine. Not worth picking up if your library doesn’t have a copy. I give it two out of five stars.

Calypso  by David Sedaris. This is the best book of Sedaris essays I have read yet. I like it more than Me Talk Pretty One Day, and I did not think that was possible. I like the older, heartfelt Sedaris. I give this book four out of five stars.

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD. This book is fabulous. I would like the parent of every child my kids ever come into contact with to read this book and put its principles into action. I am pretty sure that isn’t going to happen, but it would be nice. I have several post it flags in the book for me to return to as issues arrive and as the kids get older and have more access to media. I will happily talk your ear off about this book, so shoot me a message if you would like more information. I give this book five out of five stars.

Here is my to read pile on my nightstand:

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I hope to make a major dent in this stack this month, as I feel like I’m posting the same books over and over. We’ll see if I get distracted by a library binge or I stick to this.

What are you reading this month?

 

May Reads and June Book Goals

In May I read seven books. I think I needed to make up for slacking in April. I am so excited to share these books with you, as there are some great ones in this list.

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud at a novel before, but I certainly did with this one. This book is about a close neighborhood in LA and the aftermath of one woman’s infidelity (and yet, somehow I guffawed at it). I loved this book, but I will not be sharing it with my mom because there is a lot of swearing in it. If you don’t mind salty language I would pick this one up. I give this book four out of five stars.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity. This book is about a 29-year-old woman, newly pregnant, married to a man that she adores who wakes up after falling at the gym. Only she’s not – she’s 39, a mother of 4, and going through a messy divorce. She has forgotten the past ten years.  I loved discovering along with her how much her relationships had changed. Time changes us all, and not necessarily in good ways. I give this book four out of five stars.

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. Oh my gosh there is so much more to Trevor Noah than being funny but not being Jon Stewart. He grew up under apartheid in South Africa and faced more challenges than anyone should. He had to be hidden – his mom was black and his dad was white, which was illegal. He sold pirated music. Oh, and his step-dad shot his mom in the head. I learned a lot from this book, both about South Africa and Trevor Noah. I found it incredibly enjoyable. I give this book four out of five stars.

Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House by Michael Wolff. I wish this book were a political satire. I’m glad I read it. I give it three out of five stars.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. After reading Fire & Fury this fit the bill – cute, fun, and light. This is about a woman who hates her co-worker. Or does she? It’s full of clichés. It’s predictable. It’s not deep. There are times when that is the kind of book you want, and in that genre it is perfect. I give it five out of five stars.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This reads like an epic poem about the experience of being black in America. I liked it, but it totally felt like homework to me. I give it three out of five stars.

How to Walk Away: A Novel by Katherine Center. This book, like The Hating Game, was a wonderful distraction after Between the World and Me. It is about a woman who gets engaged to her dream man and breaks her back in an airplane accident all in the same evening. Yet it is cute and fun. I can’t explain why, just trust me on this. I enjoyed this one enough to pick up another of her books at the library (I’m currently reading James Comey’s book, so I”m going to need a light novel after that). I give it four out of five stars.

This is the stack of books for me to read on my nightstand: 20180601_1232211529518086.jpg

I will probably be adding some more mindless reading to the pile. Easy novels are perfect to read a chapter of here and there while the kids play.

What are you reading? What should I add to my list?

Book Club

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Last night my book club met for the first time since February. We all finished the book back in March, but life got in the way of the three of us getting together. Between the three of us there were two international trips and one trip to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. We had a lot to catch up on.

Our thoughts on the book, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal, were positive. We all enjoyed the book, but also found it slightly discombobulating. You would be reading a dramatic story about a woman teaching in an immigrant community in the UK and then BAM! an erotic blurb was thrown in.

At the end of the night, the book doesn’t really matter. What really matters is having a dedicated evening to catch up with friends. They are amazing listeners. They give me good advice. I always leave book club with my spirit elevated, and not just because of the book inspired signature drink.

April Reads and May Book Goals

I only read four books in April. The last time I only read four books in a month? May 2016: the month after Elliot was born. I knew April had been busy, and looking at how little I read put it in perspective.

So what did I read?

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser. This book has the plot line of a psychological thiller, without the tension of one. After a night of drinking with neighbors a woman and her two kids go missing. The book questions where they went, why they went, if they went (were they actually murdered). I was sucked in from the first chapter, but (thankfully) never got to the point where I needed to stop doing everything and finish the last 75 pages. I recommend this book. I give it four out of five stars.

American Princess: The Many Lives of Allena Tew by Annejet van der Zijl. I need to tell you off the bat that this book was incredibly fascinating and well written. That needs to be said first because as I describe it you will roll your eyes and think it sounds incredibly boring. Trust me on this, it’s not. It is really good. It’s about a woman in the Gilded Age who grew up in a small town, married rich (several times), and generally led a life unusual for the times in which she lived. I give this book five out of five stars.

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland. I knew that Misty Copeland was a history making ballerina. I had no idea how rough her childhood was. Reading this book makes me want to donate more money to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Des Moines. I give the book three out of five stars.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Wow. Just wow. When this book is described it sounds like homework, but it is amazing. It’s about a woman growing up in Nigeria, moving to the United States, and moving back to Nigeria – her relationship with her high school boyfriend, race relations in the United States, the immigrant experience. It was powerful, interesting, and informative. I highly recommend reading this book. I will happily lend you my copy. I give the book five out of five stars.

I still have a big stack of books to read. Not pictured are How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (My Book of the Month selection) and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (one of my book club selections this month). I am not setting a reading goal for this month beyond finishing my book club books on time.

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What are you reading this month? Do you have any book suggestions?

March reads and April book goals

I love reading. I am in two book clubs and subscribe to Book of the Month Club. I thought a fun new addition to the blog would be a monthly update to tell you what I read last month and what I hope to read this month.

I read five books last month. I’ll share my opinion on them from my favorite to least favorite.

The best book I read was Knit the Sky by Lea Redmond. As I have mentioned recently, I’m kind of in a knitting rut. This book was full of project ideas instead of patterns. There were a few projects ideas that I love, and will probably knit in the future. That includes the title project Knit the Sky. For that project you look up at the sky every day at the same time for a year. You knit a row on a scarf that matches the color of the sky at that time. I love that idea. It is such a good reminder to look up. The book was not full of projects that I would knit. Some of them made me roll my eyes a bit, but the book overall inspired me to look at knitting with a more creative lens. I rate this book four stars out of five.

I have Kindle Unlimited, and I tend to read a lot from that list. My second favorite book of the month is an unlimited book: Sweet Tea Tuesdays by Ashley Farley. This is a predictable but sweet book about the friendships of three women in the south. If you are looking for a brainless book that is emotional roller coaster free, this is your book. I give it three starts.

Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen by Hannah Howard was a memoir of eating disorders and bad decisions with men. If you can overlook a woman staying in bad relationships long after she should have left this is an enjoyable book. This would have made a wonderful personal essay, but it was a book. I give it two stars.

Beautiful Bodies by Kimberly Rae Miller is another book from the unlimited library. In this book she looks at the history of dieting in society (which was interesting) and her history of dieting (which was not). I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if it wasn’t part memoir. She just isn’t that interesting. I give it two out of three stars.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant was one of my book club selections for March. I never would have finished it if I wasn’t planning on discussing it with others. I would describe this book as boring AF until the last 50 pages. The last 50 were interesting, but not enough to save the rest of the book. This novel is about the sister of Joseph (old testament Joseph – the one with the coat of many colors) who was raped in Genesis.  It turns out I don’t really care about her hypothetical life. I give this book one star. Other people in my book club liked it more.

I have ambitious goals for reading this month. In addition to any kindle reading I do, I would like to read at least three books from this stack. Not pictured is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, my book club book this month. It’s ordered but not due to arrive for a week. I hope I can finish it in time for our meeting.

20180402_220139820330023.jpgI’m currently reading Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser. I’m about a third of the way through it, and I love it so far. The inside of the jacket hooked me “Drinks in hand a group of neighborhood women gather around a fire pit to enjoy a Saturday night of laughter and shared secrets. The single newcomer. The imperfect mom. The newborn parents. The military wife. The almost divorcee. By Monday morning, one of them is gone. An innocent night of fun has shocking repercussions.”

What are you reading?