January & February Books

February 27th, 2013 by Rachel

I actually read several books this month. Granted, they were all fiction, but developing/redeveloping a habit takes baby steps. With Speedy’s frequent night-wakings, I had to keep it light or I was fast asleep. I got an iphone in January and have read several books on the kindle app. I found it was so much easier to pick up my phone and read a page here or there while waiting in the car, eating lunch, etc.

1. Wool, all five parts, by Hugh Howey – a friend from my book club recommended this collection of short stories, and I was hooked after reading the first one. These were the first books I read on my iphone. I really didn’t get much done during the few days I was reading these. This is a similar genre to The Hunger Games, and I hope he writes more. I am waiting until I finish our tax return to read the Shift series.

2. Divergent by Victoria Roth – another futuristic dystopian teen novel. It was pure coincidence that I read these books back-to-back. I had been on the waiting list for this book for so long that I forgot all about it. I read it in two days. It was a page turner. Not as good as The Hunger Games, but it was really entertaining. I am getting frustrated waiting for my turn with the sequel. I know it doesn’t take you three weeks to read this book, people. Hurry up and return it so the rest of us can read it!

3. Outliers by Malcom Gladwell – I read this in bits and pieces in December and January. It was fascinating and has changed the way I think about things. Thomas has read this a few years ago, and I remembered some of it from conversations we had about it, but it was still good. I had to skim the last part because it was due back to the library.

4. Miss Perigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – our library had this ebook and I read it on the Kindle. It was another young adult book (I am liking this genre more and more for its PG/PG-13 ratings). It took me a few chapters to get into it, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down.

5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – this book had such mixed reviews that I couldn’t decide whether or not to read it, but I ended up getting into it early on. This was a sweet, sad story of a boy who loses his father in the attack on the World Trade Center. He goes on a journey throughout New York to find the meaning behind a key he found in his dad’s closet. It helps him grieve his father’s death and he has some sweet adventures. However, this book was really depressing. I have a hard time with books that are so sad as this one, and they can often put me in a funk for a few days. The chapters about his grandparents almost made me stop reading it, they were so depressing, but I skimmed those and eventually those characters just seemed unrealistic to me. Anyway, another mixed review to add to the rest of them! I just realized this book was made into a movie recently. I will have to see it when it comes out on DVD.

June & July Books

August 2nd, 2012 by Rachel

14. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – this was my book club’s book for June, but I didn’t get to go to the discussion. If I did, I would have asked why we read such a book. It was written like an awful teenage romantic comedy/coming of age movie that is full of stereotypical characters and a rather predictable plot. At least it was a really quick read.

15. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

16. Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

17. Revenge of the Spellmans by Liza Lutz

18. The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz

19. The Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz – this was the most recently published book, and I had to wait several weeks for it after I realized our library finally had it. I really enjoy all these books and enjoyed rereading the first four. They are light mysteries about a family of private investigators (the Spellmans). The latest book was enjoyable and I hope there is another one someday.

20. Seven by Jen Hatmaker – there is a lot of buzz surrounding this book, and so many of my friends that I keep up with on Facebook and blogs are reading it, too. I decided to read it after reading my friend Christine’s thoughts on the book. In Seven, the author conducts a fast each month for seven months, each month fasting from a different thing. The first month was food, and while the author did not fast, she simplified what she ate to only seven foods for the whole month. (I think she chose wisely her seven foods, and I would do the same, but not the bread, I’d find something else.) Another month was possessions, and she gave away a lot of things. One month was stress where she worked to reintroduce a Sabbath into her families lives. She also had a month on media (very insightful), spending, waste, and one on clothing where she only wore seven articles of clothing (not counting undergarments/socks) for a month. Each chapter is written like a blog/diary of her thoughts as she conducts the experiments.

I was challenged as I read her book to look outside the walls of my house more than I do and to simplify my life. After reading the chapter on possessions, Thomas took the big kids out of town for the night, and I spent the night purging our house and getting rid of a lot of stuff. It was funny reading this book because while we have never conducted such formal experiments as she did, Thomas and I have spent a month where we didn’t buy anything new. It was a really insightful experiment for us where I realized how much a trip to Target would boost my spirits if I was bored or lonely. That was back when I just had one small child and a trip to Target was a leisurely experience. Now, a trip to Target is an exhausting trek full of hazards (someone hiding in a clothing rack knocked it down on me… yes, my child.) I have never been one to be very attached to clothing or fashion, but I enjoyed reading her chapter on clothing. It reminded me of when I wore the same outfit to school my senior year of high school for two weeks (washing it nightly), just to see if anyone would notice. Only one girl did, which resonated deeply with me then to throw off the yoke of spending all my hard earned money on brand names that no one *really* noticed.

Anyway, that was a long, random aside of just a few thoughts I had as I read this book. I highly recommend it, and it really made me consider ways to simplify and reduce in order to better care for the poor, orphans and widows.

December Books

December 31st, 2011 by Rachel

44. Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morganstern – Thomas picked this up from the library in anticipation of our yearly major decluttering that takes place around New Year. I thought this lady had some great things to say in analyzing the reasons why one cannot stay organized. It was a really quick read that was helpful in preparing for our kitchen decluttering and reorganization, along with some practical tips for the kids’ room. That place overwhelms me! I skipped the sections on offices and businesses, so I was able to read this in an afternoon.

45. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth – I have had this book since Josiah was a baby and have referenced it often. However, Micah has been a different baby altogether than the other two, and I actually sat down and read most of this book this month, so I am counting it. There is a lot of wisdom in this book and he gives you a lot of options to decide what best fits your child and your parenting practices. I recommend it for my childbirth students just to know what normal sleep is for their babies at different ages. I had no clue when Josiah was a baby!

46. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat – I saw this recommended on Pinterest, but my, was this a sad, sad book to read. I appreciated the glimpse into Haitian culture, but it was a very depressing book.

47. The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam – This book is written by a Cambodian woman who was sold into prostitution as a young teenager. It is her memoir of her escape from brothels and how she began rescuing thousands of girls and women from brothels. It was so sad, and reading about the corruption and brutality was difficult. The forward for this book was written by Nicholas Kristof, who wrote “Half the Sky.”

November Books

December 6th, 2011 by Rachel

43. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Houssini – this is the same author who wrote the Kite Runner. This book was a page turner. I really enjoyed it and recommend it. Sorry, no time for synopsis, baby crying.

October Books

November 4th, 2011 by Rachel

42. Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns – this was my book club’s book (though I did not attend) for October. The first half of this book was reading deja vu. I think I must have read it sometime before, but I couldn’t remember. It was a bit of a chore to finish, as it lagged quite a bit in the middle, but I really enjoyed it toward the end. Burns’ grandfather character reminded me so much of Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove (one of my favorite characters in one of my favorite books), even what happens to him, that I thought she might have lifted it from Larry McMurtry. However, her book was published a year before Lonesome Dove, so I guess they are just coincidentally similar.

That’s all I read this month. I got bit by a crafting bug and have been doing that instead of reading. Also, holding a book while rocking and nursing a baby is not so easy as messing around on pinterest on the ipad. Just saying…

September Books

October 2nd, 2011 by Rachel

33. Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow – the ladies in my church have been going through this book this year. I really enjoyed reading it. I think the title is inappropriate for the content of the book, as the book is more about finding contentment. I highly recommend it to any ladies looking for a good book to read.

34. Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic – this little gem is probably the best book I’ve read all year and the best mothering book I’ve read in a while. I felt like the author read my mind and knows my sinful tendencies perfectly. I highly, highly recommend it. I want to buy it for all of my mom friends, it was that good. One of my favorite quotes:

“When Scripture says to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it is not talking about finding the most effective way to organize them. This is a very easy trap to fall in, because the more children you have the more difficult it is to keep them clean and clothed and fed. Just the basics are a full-time job…. Christian childrearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge. The more children you have, the more you need to be pastorally minded.”

35. Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen – not sure where I saw this recommended, but I gave it a try. It was really trite and the writing got on my nerves a few times, but it was a really cute story with some unexpected twists. Great light reading for nursing sessions.

36. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath – Thomas was reading this, and it sounded interesting, so I read it too. It is about what makes some ideas stick and why others fail. I learned a lot that will make me a better teacher to Bud and in childbirth and breastfeeding classes. It also makes sense why Speedy’s birth story seems to precede me everywhere I go!

37. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward – I thoroughly enjoyed Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files series of books last year, and I was so excited to hear she had a new book out. She wrote this murder mystery with her ex-boyfriend, each writing a chapter and then the other writing another chapter. Their footnotes in the writing to each other were hilarious. I laughed so much that I kept waking up Speedy while I was nursing.

And I’m going to count our read-aloud books of the summer, since they are real books and not just kiddie ones (I have not ever counted our read-alouds, but I enjoyed these and found myself reading ahead.)
38. The Magician’s Nephew
39. The Voyage of the Dawn Treador (twice)
40. The Silver Chair
41. The Horse and His Boy
(Bud listened to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.)

August Books

September 11th, 2011 by Rachel

29. Motherwit – by Onnie Lee Logan – My friend April loaned me this book knowing I would enjoy it. This book is an oral telling of one of the last black “Granny” midwives of Alabama. It was fascinating. I had many dreams about my midwife coming over and boiling sheets in my yard.

30. Little Princes: One man’s promise to bring back the lost children of Nepal by Conor Grennan – My father-in-law recommended this book to me after seeing the author on television. I really enjoyed this book. I spent two adventurous months in Nepal in 2001, when the royal family of Nepal was murdered and the Maoist insurgency escalated. (The story of that summer ranks up there with giving birth in a hotel, I should tell you that one someday.) Anyway, this book was excellent and I couldn’t put it down. I loved reading more about a country that I have loved and prayed for for so many years, and my heart was broken about this side of child trafficking. Most trafficking stories are told of Nepalese girls trafficked into brothels in India, but this story is of hundreds of thousands of children trafficked from rural Nepal to avoid being taken into Maoist service. This book tells the amazing story of transformation of the author as he seeks to reunite these children with their families. I highly recommend it.

31. When You Rise Up: A covenantal approach to homeschooling by R.C. Sproul Jr. – Thomas picked this up from our church library. It was an encouraging reminder of our goals in homeschooling our children–not to raise little geniuses, but to guide our children to the Lord. It was a bit rambling at times, but it was pretty good. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

32. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum – I had this on my “to read” list, but I have no idea who recommended it to me. It was an interesting story, but a very difficult read. It tells the story of a woman discovering her mother’s history as a young German woman during the second world war and the events leading up to it. There was way too much violence (though I know that was what was going on at the time) and this book should have a strong R rating. I probably would not have finished it had I not only had it to read when I was at the hospital with Sugar. I’m not sure if I recommend it unless you can handle some really heavy material.

July Books

August 1st, 2011 by Rachel

25. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson – Amazon recommended this book to me, and since the library had it, I read it. I was looking for some light-hearted reading this month (otherwise I fall asleep), and this fit the bill. It took me about a third of the book to actually get into it, but it is a sweet story with great character development.

26. Room by Emma Donoghue – I don’t know why I thought this would be a good book to read, it was not a good choice for my stage of life. While it is excellently written, and I could not put it down (I read it in a mere 24 hours), the subject matter was far too weighty for this emotional, pregnant momma of a boy the same age as the boy in this book. I think Bud was confused by all the tight hugs he got from me the following days.

27. The Help by Kathryn Stockett – I re-read this book in anticipation of our August book club venturing to the movie theater to see the screen adaptation. Reading it a second time was just as good as the first.

28. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley – I have read some of Sarah Buckley’s articles and listened to her on a podcast, and she is quite an expert on natural birth and mothering topics. As a family physician, she adds a great element of research as well. This book was a little extreme for most people, including myself, who many would also consider rather extreme. I enjoyed reading her birth stories and was encouraged by many things she wrote about, though I don’t think I would recommend this book to my average student or most of my friends.

June Books

June 29th, 2011 by Rachel

This was a lighter reading month, due to two things: 1) Completing my labor doula certification requirements (the paper-writing and paperwork aspect, the births were done months ago) and 2) Falling asleep when I tried to read. Ah, third trimester!

23. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin – I read this part of this book during my pregnancy with Sugar, and I found many of her recommendations helpful while laboring. I saw it at Half Price books and bought it to put in my class lending library, but I read it first. The first half of the book is birth stories–over 100 pages of them. This is so encouraging for couples planning their first natural birth and/or first homebirth. We tend to be bombarded with negative births, and getting positive stories makes a huge difference. The last half is very well researched, and the part that I didn’t really get to read last time. I highly recommend this book, even for experienced moms-to-be.

24. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer – I needed some light, easy reading in my current sleepy state, and this was perfect. (Thanks, Jenna!) Written entirely in letters, this book dealt with the heavy subject of recovery of a small island in the English Channel following German occupation during WWII. It was very sweet, funny and all-around a good book to read. I highly recommend it.

May Books

June 1st, 2011 by Rachel

19. Anne of Ingleside – again, I think these books get better and better as I read. This was a nice, light-hearted choice.

20. The Wolves of Andover – this was the prequel to The Heretic’s Daughter that I read last month, and in the same way so many sequels/prequels are overly sensational and disappointing, this one was, too. I don’t recommend it.

21. One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp – I really enjoyed this book and was very challenged by it, and I will likely read it again to continue soaking up the truths in it. The main idea of this book is that being thankful in all circumstances and seeing all things as gifts from God will free us to worship, serve and live fully where we are.

22. Half the Sky: Turming Oppression into Opportunities for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn – this was a gut-wrenching, heart-stomping book that gives a glimpse into some of many problems faced by women around the world. They take a look into sex-trafficking (more girls and women are sold into sexual slavery each year now than African slaves were shipped to slave plantations each year in the the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries), honor killings, rapes and violence against women, why women die in childbirth (one woman dies every minute giving birth around the world), maternal mortality rates (this looks into the horrible reality of fistulas among women in Africa), women and Islam, the value of education, microcredit and ways of really helping women around the world. While many books like this are incredibly difficult to get through, I really appreciate the way the authors approach this subject–with hope. As each well-researched chapter discusses a different horrible reality for women, they have a section of what someone is doing to help, along with how and why it is working. The book is hopeful and is full of practical ways someone here in our wonderfully cushy life in America can help. I highly recommend this book.