Thursday, April 30, 2020

April Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88 in 201777 in 2018 and 67 in 2019!) has morphed into this passion for books. As you can see, my reading has slowed a bit, but my love for books has not! In the past couple years I've added longer distance races (which means more time running/ training and less time reading), we've remodeled our condo (I think it legit took us six months to finish the whole thing... DIY seems to take twice as long {and cost twice as much} as you originally think it will), and I've added another part time job (which means I'm now working 40ish hours a week, cutting down on my reading time). Even still, I love getting my read on whenever I can.

Truth be told, I was never much of a reader when I was younger (CliffsNotes were my best friend when it came to books), but recently I fell in love. Although I may not read at the same speed as I previously did when I first caught the reading bug, I still want to keep the hobby going (and what better form of accountability than to post a list of the books I finished at the end of the month?!). I don't have any set number of books I am shooting to read this year, but hopefully a lack of goal doesn't mean a lack of books completed. So, without further ado, let's jump into everything I read in April!

  • Life Is by Judah Smith - I saw this at one of the free libraries I walk by on a regular basis and scooped it up. At first it was the bright colors of the cover that caught my eye, but the subtitle "God's illogical love will change your existence" is what got me to open the book. I'll be honest, I wanted to love this book. I am always looking for good faith-filled books, but for some reason this one didn't hit the mark for me. I'm not sure what exactly it was, but I found myself thinking "yeah, I know this, but what else...". Maybe our church does a great job at teaching about God's illogical love already, maybe I was in a funk or coming from a place of pride, maybe I was put off by some of his examples and what I read as coming from a place of privilege, maybe it just wasn't my jam, but whatever the case, I didn't feel like I walked away changed. In fact, I would say a few hours after reading it most of the information had gone in one ear (or through one eye) and out the other. (When I was grabbing a link to the book I noticed that this one seemed to be a sequel to his previous book "Jesus Is", and we all know how sequels go...) I would give it a 6 out of 10.

  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides - This is another book that I grabbed from a free library (good thing I had a stockpile of them in the office to read now that the libraries are all closed). I thought I had remembered it was a movie (although I have never seen it) and figured "if it was good enough to turn into a film, it is probably a decent book". Another confession here - it has been raining here for the last couple weeks (which the flowers love and it seems to be helping SoCal with their "social distancing") and the lack of sun has really been impacting my mood. This book definitely is NOT a sunshine-y type book. As I'm sure you can gather from the title, it is about some pretty serious topics. The author's writing is poetic, but that doesn't make the hard parts any easier. His use of "us" and "we" makes you feel like you are part of the neighborhood boys' inner circle right along with them. You know where the story is going, yet I was left wondering how it would get there. And, on a personal note, growing up just south of where this book was said to have taken place (Grosse Pointe, a suburb of Detroit), I felt like I could picture the scenes exactly. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs - Yet another one I was able to grab from our little, free library. When we were walking by, the hubby said, "Hey, we loved Bones, you should grab that one." First off, I didn't realize the TV series was based on a novel. Secondly, I didn't realize there was a whole series and this was book number TEN. Thankfully they seem to be all individual cases, so you don't necessarily have to read the previous one to know what is going on in the current one. I flew threw this book in a single afternoon (as you can probably tell from the pictures of the books this month, the couch is getting a lot of usage now that I'm laid off from the running store and the rains have been fairly consistent). Like the hubby mentioned, I really enjoyed the Bones series and although this isn't the exact same, it still had some of the same elements. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another one of the books in the series, but until the libraries re-open, I'll just have to settle for any that I happen to come across (hopefully the original owner of this book has more they would like to offload a the neighborhood bookshelf ;)). Loved the mystery with a little side of romance. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally - Like I've said before, I didn't do a lot of reading before a couple years ago... Well, I am slightly embarrassed to say, but when I saw this book at our neighborhood library I knew very little about it. I mean, I knew it was about the Holocaust and there was a movie based on it, but other than that I was pretty clueless. I didn't realize it was based on factual events or a real person and that said person was a German aiding Jews. Like I said, embarrassed. Not only because I didn't read this book (or even watch the film) before now, but also because I didn't know about Oscar Schindler prior to this. This truly is a modern classic. I pray that something like the Holocaust never happens again, but if I was to ever be put in a similar situation as Schindler, I pray I would have the courage and strength to step in on behalf of others. He was a hero and used the system of pure evil to try to prevent more evil from occurring. And although the topic is obviously full of tragedy and despair, the book read of triumph and hope. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth - I was on my Hoopla app, looking for a book to listen to and saw this one. I have always loved Mister Rogers, so this book caught my attention right away. Since it was the Tenth Anniversary Edition, there was a little interview with the author at the beginning of the book that was super interesting too. (PS I love when the author is the one who reads a book - I feel like you can really get a sense of what they are saying.) I think what I loved most about this book (not only the insight of his faith and background) was that the author was a friend of Fred's (so weird to hear him referred to by his first name, right?!). They corresponded via letters (as well as calls, emails, and in-person visits) and it was fascinating to get a "behind the scenes" look into their relationship. I absolutely love that Mister Rogers was an ordained minister, but that he seemed to spread the message of God and His love without necessarily having to use the words. His focus was making people (especially kiddos) feel loved, heard, seen and accepted. And don't we need more of that in this world?! Since I listened to it, I'm not sure if it is a "quick read", but it only took about 2.5 hours to listen to it (I took a 5 mile walk to listen to the first half and then finished it while I was doing some housework). I might be bias because I have a super soft spot for Mister Rogers in my heart, but I would absolutely recommend this book (whether you read or listen to it). I would give it a 9 out of 10.

With that, April has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What was the best book you read this year?

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