Wednesday, November 30, 2022

November Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by for a paper or test, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 201777 books in 201867 books in 201966 books in 2020 and 67 books in 2021). In the last year or so, especially since going back to work outside of the house full-time, the majority of my "reading" has been through audiobooks since I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have two-ish hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb diggity and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So here are the books I finished in November:

  • A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio - I had snagged this book a while back, but because reading physical books hasn't been on my priority list (it's easier for me to listen to an audiobook on my walk to work or on my lunch break than actually sitting down and reading a few chapters, so that's what I've been doing more of recently) I hadn't gotten around to it. I figured the flight to (and from) New York for the TCS NYC Marathon would be the perfect time to read Mirna's story. I was introduced to Mirna via REI and have loved following along on her adventures. She is a back-of-the-pack runner who works full time (she's a teacher and a coach), is a wife, a mom and still finds the time to train for ultramarathons. This memoir follows Mirna's journey as she becomes a long distance runner. She shows that everyone can do this thing called running (if they put in the time, effort and mental training). I love her perspective on body acceptance and self-love. She isn't running to lose weight or to fit society's norm of what "healthy" or " a runner" looks like. It was a quick read and Mirna keeps things light and fun (FYI - you do not need to be a runner to enjoy this one). I wish there was more on her life as an "influencer", but maybe that just means she'll write another book ;) I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku - I saw this on my Hoopla app and thought I'd give it a listen. Holocaust stories are always heartwrenching, but I glean nuggets from all of them so although they can be hard to read, they are worth it. Listening to Eddie's story was no different. It is always shocking to see what fear and then hate can cause people to do. My heart ached for Eddie (and all those in a marginalized community), yet to see his tenacity and perseverance was inspiring. He believes it was his hope that allowed him to survive the atrocities that he went through during the Holocaust. He decided that if he could make it through the heinousness he would use his life to pay tribute to the 6 million who were murdered by sharing his story and living his best life. This was an extremely quick listen (I actually finished it {since I listen at 1.75x speed} during a 13 mile run) and at times I wanted it to go on longer and at other points I didn't know if I could stomach any more of the evil. I appreciate Eddie's willingness to be vulnerable with others and share what he and others went through so HOPEFULLY we do not repeat history. Oh yeah, and Eddie's over 100 YEARS OLD! If Eddie can turn to love after all he has endured, so can the rest of us. I would give it a 10 out of 10. 

  • If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin - I don't know why I downloaded this book on my Hoopla app (if didn't have amazing reviews, it wasn't super new and I'm not even sure how I came across it, but it was in my "for later" list), but it was 'good enough'. It was a YA story that gave away the ending at the beginning and then took the rest of the book to fill in the background. I wouldn't say it was anything too special, but reminded me of the teeny-bopper movies I sometimes watch on Netflix when I'm on the stationary bike. I appreciate that it discussed some serious topics - like teen pregnancy, suicide, divorce, mental illness, etc - but overall it was just 'fine' in my opinion. I'm always going to cheer for young love, but since I knew the ending I couldn't get too deeply attracted to the characters (also, it seemed pretty predictable). I would give it a 7 out of 10. 

With that, November 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's the best book you've read lately? 

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