Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Reading Journal

Ya'll. I've been doing this trendy new thing lately called journaling. It's kind of like blogging - you explore your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and experiences - but you don't publish it on the internet for everyone to read. I've been enjoying the opportunity to get to know myself in a quiet and uncensored place. I do still want to keep things up here for family history purposes (one of these years I really am going to turn this blog into a series of books), so I'm hoping to post a bunch of pictures and such soon. In the meantime, here's a rundown of what I've been reading recently:

The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw

I have so much respect for the group of people who grew up during the Depression and carried our country through World War II. I wish I had appreciated the strength and power of this generation before my grandparents, who were a part of it, were gone.

This book was fairly interesting, though it mostly explored the lives of this generation after they'd settled back into their post-war lives and the contributions they made to the world after pulling together as a group for the cause of freedom and goodness. I'm more interested in the parts about their experiences before and during the war, so I wasn't wildly thrilled about this book. But I do have a teeny crush on Tom Brokaw now.

The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill

My mom recommended this one! It's the story of an agnostic artist who comes to know Jesus while painting a mural for a museum of natural history. I enjoyed it. Definitely better than a lot of the super cheesy lit that dominates the Christian fiction market.

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene

I LOVE the problem-solving approach this book takes to helping spirited/high-strung/extra sensitive kids learn how to predict and manage their emotional triggers. The author's philosophy is that kids do well when they have the tools to do so, and I fully believe that. I would recommend this book to anyone parenting a child who struggles this way.

How to Talk to Your Child About Sex by Linda and Richard Eyre

I think this is a MUST READ for parents who aren't sure how to open up a safe discussion with their kids about sex and values. I LOVE IT. We've tried implementing their suggestions, and so far, our kids are totally comfortable talking to us about sex. In this day, we cannot afford to not make our homes a safe and open place for dialogue about such things. (On that note, we read a book called It's So Amazing with our kids that provided a great springboard for discussion. I also recommend Good Pictures, Bad Pictures to start conversations about pornography. I have WITNESSED this book helping my kids already.)

The House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Lindhout was working as a reporter in Somalia when she and her travel companion were abducted by terrorists demanding a huge ransom for their safe return. She spent 460 excruciating days in captivity, suffering abuse, hunger, loneliness, sickness, and terror. Her story of survival, courage, gratitude, and forgiveness is one that everyone should read. (She came to speak at Abraham's company party last year and I was very impressed with her.)

Dune by Frank Herbert

I've started this one several times and was determined to get through it. I made it further than I ever have before, but then I got hit by pregnancy sickness (I refuse to call it morning sickness, because it sure as heck doesn't limit itself to the morning) and didn't care about it anymore. So, poor book, it's been relegated back to the bookshelf again. I may give it another try someday. Probably not, though.

Echo Burning by Lee Child

I love Jack Reacher. He's so tough and yet . . . so lovable.

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander

I'm a sucker for near-death experiences, and this one didn't disappoint.

A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich

I loved this book. It was such a beautiful story of love and family, of an ordinary woman who life was lived courageously through challenges. Her sacrifice and persistence and hard work were inspiring.

A good quote from the book: “I think that love is more like a light that you carry. At first childish happiness keeps it lighted and after that romance. Then motherhood lights it and then duty . . . and maybe after that sorrow. You wouldn't think that sorrow could be a light, would you, dearie? But it can. And then after that, service lights it. Yes. . . . I think that is what love is to a woman . . . a lantern in her hand.” 

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Halfway through this book, I realized the only parts I was enjoying were the bits that were actually about Abraham Lincoln. Wasn't super thrilled by the vampire hunting stuff. Figured I should just read a biography of Abe, so I quit. Any recommendations?

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

A masterfully crafted novel that helped me understand South Africa a little better. And even helped me think that boxing wasn't the absolute worst sport ever. This is the kind of novel that just blows your mind with its scope and craftmanship. How does one author create so much perfect detail?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This definitely had the dramatic feel of other mid-century books about the dark future of the world. It was okay.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I was pretty disappointed by this one, not going to lie. It was mostly about rich people living sad, empty lives. Reflecting on it, I think maybe Fitzgerald was trying to make a statement about the death of the American dream? Or maybe saying that it was an illusion? Not sure.

Immortal Prince Series by Jennifer Fallon

I LOVE Jennifer Fallon's Wolfblade Chronicles, but this series sucked. It had potential, but definitely didn't meet it. Don't read it. Halfway through I started wondering if Fallon had gotten bored and passed the project off to a gifted college student or something. The editing was low quality, too.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

This is a first-person narrative about a woman developing Alzheimer's disease. It's fascinating and insightful and I highly recommend it.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

I wanted to like this book, but I just didn't. I was kind of annoyed that the book is stuffed with comments about how being gay isn't a choice - but then the main character, who is not usually/naturally attracted to women chooses to be in a same-sex relationship. Picoult also painted Christians as bigoted idiots, even though I know she tried not to.

Walk to Beautiful by Jimmy Wayne

Jimmy Wayne is a country singer who had an incredibly rough start in life. His memoir is inspiring! And it speaks to the importance of foster care and adoption for teens.

White Fire (A Pendergast novel) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Kind of a middling thriller. I used to really love Special Agent Pendergast, but he's kind of gone downhill recently.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
A beautifully written, fascinating, and inspiring memoir. Jeanette was raised by some quirky human beings, and that wasn't always a good thing - but it made her into a compassionate, hard-working, and self-sufficient human being. Reading this kind of made me want to neglect my kids more.

The Revenant by Michael Punke
This was so much better than the movie. Based on the true story of Hugh Glass, I was totally blown away by his grit and will to survive through extremely adverse circumstances.

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
The true story of a boy living in Sierra Leone in the 90s when a brutal civil war broke out. His village was destroyed, his family was killed, and he was conscripted to fight against the rebel army. The vivid descriptions of cruel brutality were sometimes difficult for me to handle, but I'm glad I read this one. It expanded my understanding of that conflict and similar situations in Africa. This was recommended to me by Abe's mom, who is the most prolific reader I know.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

This is a classic, but it kind of felt pointless to me. The last chapter kind of explained the broader meaning and symbolism, which I appreciated, but I've already forgotten what it was. Not a life-changer for me.

Beyond the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

Beyond the Beautiful Forevers is written in a format called "narrative nonfiction," which I don't think I've ever encountered before, but enjoyed very much. This book provided a lot of insight into what life is like for extremely poor people in urban India. I found this look into one aspect of Indian life fascinating: the tenuous co-existence of religions, the clash between traditional life and modernization, the strain of population growth, the corruption inherent on every level of the social infastructure, the near-impossibility of improving one's living situation, and more. This was another one recommended by my mother-in-law. I recommend it, too!

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
I read this one as a child, of course, but Soren told me I needed to re-read it, and I'm glad he did. Natalie Babbitt is a goddess. She is a true artist with the written word, and I love the wisdom in the story.


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