Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thirteen through Twenty

So, I've made it through 8 books since we last spoke.   This does mean, sadly, that I have fallen rather significantly behind in my (perhaps overly lofty) goal of 52 books in a year.  This is the 29th week of the year and I am currently reading books 21 and 22, which still puts me about 9 books behind schedule.  Although I think I'll close that gap a little during our vacation, (week after next!!!!!! OMG!!!!!! Lakehouse!!!!!) I don't think I'll be able to eliminate it fully.  Plus, you know, full-time work again, the holidays, childbirth, etc. will also occur in 2011, so those may put me off a bit too. Just trying to be realistic here guys.

HOWEVER, I plan on forging ahead regardless.  I like the reading routine I've got going, I have a looming to-read list, and I do want to see how close I can get to 52 books. You never know, I may just pull it off. I'm sorry if the books posts aren't your thing, but you have to put up with them, at least until 2012.

For obvious reasons, these will be abridged reviews. Please feel free to contact me for a more in-depth exploration of my opinion, which I know you just CRAVE like nothing else.

Book 13, Home, by Marilyn Robinson
It was excellent. I love, lovey, loved it.  I read Gilead a few years ago, and Housekeeping the year after that, and although Gilead still stands as my clear favorite, Home was not a disappointment.  Which, is often a problem for me- once I've read a book that I LOVE by an author, I expect to equally love everything else they write, and this can lead to grave disappointment. If you have not read Gilead before, GO GET IT AND READ IT RIGHT NOW. Then, read Home. You will thank me.

Book 14, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
This is a tough book for me to review. I did not love it, but I do not think it was the book's fault.  You see, I started reading it the week before I realized I was in a family way, (looks at floor, blushes) and every time I picked it up to read it, I fell asleep within 5 pages. THIS WENT ON FOR OVER A MONTH, I KID YOU NOT.  Because of that, I feel like my reading of it was very disjointed, and I was never really able to get into the rhythm of the plot.  However, her characters are extremely compelling, the story is quite lovely, and she wrote it when she was TWENTY-THREE!  So, it's like an Outsiders kind of thing- you have to be impressed because WHO has this much life experience, wisdom, and insight into the human soul at 23?!?! Not I, friends. I can tell ya that much.

Book 15, Confessions of a Twentieth Century Pilgrim, Malcolm Muggeridge
This one was a recommendation from my Dad, who is a prolific reader and a forceful recommender. I only tell you this as a defense against my own character- when you come to my house and accidentally start talking to me about books and I shove a book into your hands on your way out the door, and say "Okay, so, read it this week, and let's meet for coffee on Friday and talk all about it! Can't wait to hear what you think! You're gonna love it! Bye!" And then you walk away feeling like you were the just the victim of a drive-by booking... well, I just want you to know that I come by this trait honestly. It's not my fault. :)
HOWEVER, although Dad is a forceful recommender, he's also a pretty good one too, and this book was no exception. I was reading it at the same time as Lonely Hunter, so I was also experiencing the same reading/sleeping issues, but this book is non-fiction, has short chapters, and a bit of a devotional feel, so it was easier to find my groove in it.  I really, really, really like autobiographical works anyway, and found myself rather fascinated by Muggeridge's descriptions of himself at different stages of his life.  A very unique perspective, and challenging without being demoralizing at all.

Book 16, Love the One You're With, Emily Giffin
This book was one of my book club's picks, which I mention because it's probably not one I would have picked up on my own.  It's not that I eschew chick lit, romance, or 'beach read' type books- no, no, not at all.  It's just that, when I'm in the mood to read trash, I already have all my favorite trashy authors, so I usually just go for one of them. You know, loyalty and all. But, here's the thing- this wasn't trash! I swear!  Yes, it certainly has both feet firmly planted in the chick lit genre, but it was quite well written. Well developed characters, interesting plot, and the main character did NOT get everything she wanted in the end.  Whoa! I'll admit it, Giffin, I had you pegged all wrong. Well, mostly wrong.

Book 17, Room, Emma Donoghue
Really, really good. I was hesitant to read it because I do not like scary things, nor do I like overly graphic Criminal Minds-esque delves into the minds of psychopaths.  However, a friend assured me that it was neither, and that she thought I would like it.  She was right on both counts.  Although the setting and situation of the characters is rather dark, it's not a scary or even overly-suspensful book. What stood out to me (and impressed me) the most about the book, was Donoghue's portrayal of the immensely great lengths that a parent will go to in order to preserve the well being of their child, and what happens when that parent reaches the end of what they are capable of.  There are a few parts that are difficult to read- I actually put the book down at one point and walked away because I was just SO MAD at the mother in the book. SO MAD! And she's not even real, so I can't yell at her!  But, back to the point- Donoghue takes on an often ignored topic in a complex and rather beautiful way. I liked it very, very much, and if you decide to read it, I'm dying to talk to you about it.

Book 18, Bossypants, by Tina Fey
So, I made a mistake with this book.  I thought it was going to be a HUMOR book, with a little autobiography thrown in. It's not. It's an AUTOBIOGRAPHY with a little humor thrown in. Once I figured that out, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of it. Plus she (kinda sorta) explains how she got that scar, which, lets be honest, the world's been dying to know for, like, ever.

Book 19, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller
Our community group read this book as our last study, and it's a winner.  It was a great book for prompting self-examination and sparking eeeeexcellent discussions.  I am not a WILD Timmy K fan, but I always enjoy his insights when I read him, and this book was no exception.

Book 20, The Ministry of Motherhood, by Sally Clarkson
Just finished this one a few days ago.  I read The Mission of Motherhood right after Henry was born and really appreciated it.***  This book is written more like a devotional than the last one. There are a few chapters devoted to a theme, and then there are questions to go along with it.  I liked this format, and thought I really got a lot out of what she had to say by using her questions throughout. I also really appreciated her incorporation of Scripture in each section the book.

*** So, I do have one GIANT disclaimer when it comes to Clarkson. She says some things that drive me absolutely BATTY in both of these books.  First, she's REALLY hard on working moms. Not so cool, Sally. I'd like you back off a smidge. Second, she's a definite proponent of homeschooling and I think is a little dismissive of people who choose to educate their kids otherwise. I'm not opposed to homeschooling at all, but I DO think there are many excellent practical and theological reasons NOT to homeschool, and that's never acknowledged. Third, she's a little.... uhh... sappy? I guess? She tells stories about her kids, and her teenagers say things to her like "Mom, I really appreciate what a great friend and role model you and Dad are to me." I keep wanting to be like, "Seriously, Sally? He said that? Are you sure? Did you write it down for him first?" She also talks about keeping her children 'pure' and 'innocent' which I find annoying, and lacking in terms of scriptural support.
HOWEVER, her approach to motherhood, and her theology of servanthood is awesome, and has been incredibly encouraging to me. Her books have helped me to vocalize my goals and purposes more clearly, and have guided me towards finding (and recognizing the limits of) satisfaction from mothering. So, I will continue to put up with the things I find less than thrilling in her books, because overall, I still like where she's coming from. But, I don't think we could hang out in person. Don't tell her. She'd be SO disappointed.

And thats it! My life, in books, over the past two months. So, have YOU read anything good that should make it onto the list? I still have about 12 spots to fill...


  1. You amaze me!! Preggos and you still read and report- amazing!!

  2. I read We Were the Mulvaneys based on your book review and just loved it. I've been trying to pick up some more Joyce Carol Oates (did I get those in the right order).

    I've been hesitant to read room as well. I thought it would be too dark for bed-time reading, but maybe I will give it a shot.

  3. V, I'm so glad you read it & loved it!!! She is one of the greats, I think. Let me know if you read Room, I'm interested to hear what you think.

  4. you're doing great, rachel.
    when i was where you were (my pregnancy slowed me down around week 40ish of the year, so i was in the 52-book home stretch) i read the chronicles of narnia to catch up :)
    also, i need to know, are you anti-goodreads? we'd be awesome goodreads friends.