Sunday, March 31, 2019

March Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88 in 2017 and 77 in 2018!) has morphed into this passion for books. Let's be real, not having cable TV to keep me "entertained" also gives me more free time to dive into a great book or seven ;) {PS One of my goals for 2019 is to read 19 books, let's see how many times over I can do that.}

There were ELEVEN books in the first two month, so when I add March's NINE that brings my total for 2019 to TWENTY thus far! If you're interested in what I read (or how I'd rate them and whether I'd recommend you giving them a read or giving them a hard pass), make sure to check out my previous recaps! {January's Books, February's Books}

  • Fear by Bob Woodward - I grabbed this from the library when I was waiting for the Michelle Obama book to become available. I had very little knowledge about the book prior to grabbing it (wasn't sure if it was "pro" Trump or "anti" Trump), but since it was available and I still had a couple weeks before the other book was up for grabs I decided I'd try this one. I am going to keep my own personal politics out of this review (or at least give it my best attempt at doing so), but to say this book was interesting would be an understatement. I would not call myself an uber political person (don't get me wrong, I vote in all elections and try to stay up-to-date on platforms that interest or impact me, but I don't know a ton of what goes on in the day-to-day politics), and with all of the slander and disgust in today's media I try to keep my nose out of it for the most part. This book was very eye opening because it was sort of a look behind the curtain (and behind the curtain while the President is still in office). I was flabbergasted at not only some of the actions of the President but also people around him (some have gone as far as to take memos off the President's desk to keep him from signing them). I wouldn't say that this book changed my view of President Trump, but it was very eye opening to some of his behaviors (even more so than the media has been). I'll be honest, I had a hard time following some of the key players (especially since they changed so frequently and the book jumped around a bit), but that doesn't mean that at the end of the book I still wasn't left shaking my head and wondering what's coming in the remaining time President Trump is in the White House. I would give it a 7 out of 10 (but know going in it isn't an easy read). 

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama - I got on the wait list for this book at our library as soon as I could... and I was still like 30+ in line... I patiently waited my turn and was STOKED when it became available. As you saw, the previous book I read was another "political" one, but let me just say, this book wasn't political. I mean, of course, in so much as the author was the President's wife it is political, but, for the most part, this is a memoir about the life of Michelle Obama. Of course her husband is interwoven into her story, but she has so much of her own story to tell that it would be silly (and shameful) to see her simply as the President's wife. I think what struck me throughout this book was not only how similar she is to so many women in the country, but to how much encouragement and hope she brings to those around her. Her message is one of strength and perseverance. Although her story touches on some politics (it would be hard not to, when you are married to someone in the political realm), the book is more about a girl becoming a woman, a student becoming a professional, a woman becoming a wife and mother, and, eventually, Michelle becoming the First Lady. I think, as opposed to the previous book I read, this left me inspired and motivated - not only about how the world could be, but how the world should be. And we all have a role to play. I'm not saying we all need to run for office or pound on doors for a political candidate, but I am saying we should all champion a cause, something that is near and dear to our hearts, and do our darnedest to make this world a better place. Thank you, Michelle, for all you have done for children, for women, for this country. You continue to be an example and I wish you the best in whatever this next chapter holds for you and your family! I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Beautiful Boy by David Sheff - The hubby and I have Amazon Prime, and when I logged in a few days ago it suggested that we watch Beautiful Boy. When I read the synopsis I found out it was based on a book, and since we all know the books are ALWAYS better, I grabbed it from the library so I could read it before we watched the film. This is a story about a father's experience with his son's addiction to meth. As I'm sure you can imagine, the story is heartbreaking. Not only for Nic, the son with the addiction, but for the family as well. David, the father, does a great job describing the situation and what he was feeling through the entire journey. This is a real and raw look at the effects addiction can have on all parties involved. Unfortunately I am no stranger to addiction, although I am lucky to have those with the disease currently on the straight and narrow. I can't even imagine how it would feel to have your child addicted (and to meth nonetheless), my heart goes out to this family and all the others dealing with this hell. I much appreciate the new afterword that has been included with David's thoughts on how we as a society could be doing better to help those addicted (and their families). I absolutely agree that our healthcare system is not set up to handle addiction adequately. It is a disease that does not discriminate based on economic class, gender, race, etc - so it is in everyone's best interest to focus on treatments and solutions. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris - I guess you could say I have been on a World War II, Holocaust reading kick lately. I don't really know why (especially with the subject matter being so dark and somber), but I continue to be drawn to them. When I had shared a recent book in my Instagram stories, a friend mentioned this title so I put it on hold at the library. Let me just say, this book... WOW! It is deemed a novel, but it's based on a true story and man is it a crazy one. Lale is a Slovakian Jew who is taken to Auschwitz and eventually becomes the tattooist, the one who tattoos the identification number on the bodies of everyone coming into Auschwitz-Birkenau. Although this is definitely not a light-hearted read, it is one centered on love and perseverance. I have no idea what I would do in a situation like this, but I pray A. never to find out, but B. that I would have the strength to fight for those around me and to make a difference in the world, however small and seemingly insignificant it may be. I feel like I spoiled the ending a bit by flipping through the last few pages of the book, so if you grab it, I would recommend averting your eyes. I flew through this book in an afternoon, I just couldn't put it down (started reading it while I rode the stationary bike). I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom - You may remember that last year I read through quite a few of Mitch Albom's books. He is a Detroit guy (who also runs a non-profit in Haiti) and I always love his writing, so when I saw one of his books (and, surprisingly one I hadn't already read) at the "little free library" on our doggy walk route, I grabbed it. It has been sitting on my bedside table for a few weeks now because books keep becoming available at the library, but when I had a few days and didn't have any books reserved at the library I picked this one up. I've gotta say - I really liked it. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I felt like it kept me guessing and interested the entire time. Unlike some books where I can predict the plot or outcome, this one had me on the edge of my seat for the entire time. I feel like it was a rather long book compared to the other ones of his that I had read, but I still flew through it in about a day and a half. Despite the name and focus of the story, I didn't feel this was a religious book, so if that is something that would turn you off from reading it I'd still suggest picking it up. I would say, even though it's a novel, it does make you do a little soul searching about what you believe and why you believe it. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Women in Sports by Rachel Ignotofsky - I grabbed this one from the library because I loved the illustrations (and because who doesn't need to learn about more amazing female role models?!). I would say that this book is more geared towards girls, but I loved it nonetheless. I actually put it on my Amazon wish list once I finished it because I wouldn't mind having it in my collection (a pretty cool coffee table book if you ask me). I think this would be a great book for any girl in your life (whether she likes sports or not). I loved learning more about lesser known athletes (and sports) and hearing about how these women took names and kicked booty! Obviously this book is only about 100 pages long (one page dedicated to the illustration and one to her bio plus a few extra pages here and there), so it was a quick read, but I really enjoyed it. WOMEN FOR THE WIN! I also am excited to check out this author's previous book Women in Science! I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Strong is the New Beautiful by Lindsey Vonn - I don't remember how I came across this title, but it was waiting for me on hold in my most recent library haul so I gave it a try. This isn't your typical book (although there is a decent amount of text in it), it is more of a workout guide, cookbook, healthy living tutorial. Although I wouldn't necessarily say I'm the target audience, I did walk away with some great little nuggets. First, I really appreciate that it focuses on strength (not losing weight, not a specific diet, not on being skinny or the numbers on a scale). Also, I'm stoked she includes different workouts for different levels of fitness. She also makes a point to mention folks should be finding activities they enjoy (if you enjoy it, you're more likely to stick with it). Lastly, I think it was the kick in the pants I needed to actually start adding strength training back in to my regimen. I have gotten lazy in that department (although I have been doing a squat, push-up, plank and crunch challenge {actually four separate challenges} this month, so maybe that is the jumpstart, along with this book, that I needed). I wouldn't say this is one I would recommend folks to buy (I'm sure you can find similar information online, for free), but since I checked it out of the library it worked for me. I would give it a 6.5 out of 10.

  • Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan - I had seen a friend post this book on her Instagram and mention she really liked it so I grabbed it from the library. It's a collection of essays the author put together that focus on a phrase or word we use (or should use) in our relationships. Let me be up front about this one, this one touches on serious matters. Kelly had recently been through two large losses in her life, so many of the chapters mention (or focus on) the death of her father and best friend. Despite the sometimes sad and somber emotion, Kelly tends to bring light and life to the book. At times it's funny and raw and refreshing. The author seems very down-to-earth and communicates in a way that makes her feel like your best friend. I wasn't sure what I was envisioning when I grabbed this one, but I think it surpassed my expectations. It was more thought-provoking than I was anticipating and I walked away thinking about how I need to add some of the phrases into my life more often (like "I was wrong" or "Tell me more" or just plain "No"). This was another book I flew through in an afternoon and would definitely recommend you do the same. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas - I came across this book because someone had recently left a review of it on the library's website (and since I feel like I am one of the very few people who does that it stuck out to me). The review was positive so I put the book on my list to grab and am very happy I did. I will be completely honest, I don't know a ton about immigration, even though I live less than 50 miles from the Mexico border. This book provided eye-opening insight on what an undocumented citizen goes through on a daily basis. The author of the book may have a slightly different story from others, but the themes are the same - lying, passing and hiding. Not only did this book inform me about a lot of the policies and regulations (without being too dry and boring), it really hit home when it got to the heart of the matter - who (or what) is an American? I was very appreciative that Jose mentioned the language we use surrounding immigration. Words can have lasting consequences and I know I will be more careful with what I say. The book isn't super long (and actually wished it was longer) so I was able to fly through it in an afternoon. I can see how Jose has made a name for himself as a journalist, his writing really draws you in. I would give it a 9 out of 10. 

With that, March 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?


Marta said...

I suggest you some run-related books like "Run or Die" by Kilian Jornet Burgada and "Finding Gobi" by Dion Leonard.
As you've probably know, Kilian is one of the most famous ultra-runner-alpinist-ski mountaneering in the world, and this book was written some years ago. A sort of walk in his first steps into racing.
Regarding the secondo book...Maybe you've heard the story of a man (Dion) running an ultra race in the Gobi Desert where he has found this tiny dog in the middle of nowhere in the desert...well, this is their story.

Vanessa Junkin said...

Sounds like some very interesting books! I've been listening to "Becoming" and really enjoying it. Michelle Obama definitely shows she's more than just a First Lady!

Anonymous said...

Great picks this month and congratulations on as already passing your goal for 2019!
"Fear" was interesting. It read more intellectual than some of the other salacious political books that have come out so far.
Will get to Michelle's book in a month or so. Glad to hear it's a winner!
"Beautiful Boy" was a wonderful book. I cried on parts.
I didn't think I would love "Dear America" given the day to day news in this country, but it was fascinating and horrifying. Also one of my favorite books last year.

Are you on Goodreads? If so, I will try to follow you. Lol.

yourun5ks said...

I put a few of these on my list. Are you on good reads? Would love to follow

Terra Heck said...

Several of the books you mentioned seem so interesting. I'll be adding them to my TBR list.