It's that time of the month again. Today I am sharing what I have been reading lately. I am more than half way finished with Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee and may actually finish before the end of May but I'll add it onto June's reading list, for ease. Jeff and I finished Everybody, Always by Bob Goff this month- this is our morning reading time together at 4-dark-thirty in the morning when we read before work. We also read together from the Bible - we are going through the New Testament, twice through, this year. We also began The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis as our read aloud following Everybody, Always.
Throughout the month I am documenting what I've been reading in a traveler's notebook. At my 'half-way to my goal', which is 60 books, I plan on doing a video walk-thru of my album. I am simply creating the pages, digitally, in Photoshop Elements, uploading them to the brilliant photo printing company, Persnickety Prints, and when I receive them I am adhering them into the traveler's notebook. It has been such a fun way to record what I am reading. I generally keep up with the pages, creating a few at a time, throughout the month.
I own a lot of books. However, more recently, I have been using our local library with the PINES network This allows access to way more books than before. I have decided, after paying for several library fines over the past couple of months, I am going to take a library break and dig in to some of the books on my shelves that I've been dying to read. This will be part of my summer reading plans. While it may be 'normal' for readers to have library fines, I have struggled with this and, yet, I am not always able to make it to the library to return books - no excuse!
This month I have read some wonderfully satisfying books. After 5 months of reading this year I am almost positive one of them will be a contender at the end of the year for Best Book of 2019. Enjoy!
Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson. First, a couple of sweet quotes: 'How can this be? How does such a thing happen around us everyday - and we just go about our lives like it's nothing out of the ordinary' - on a baby being born. There is 'a kind of holiness to these days...maybe there's still something I am supposed to accomplish' - on why Blix hasn't died yet. Blix, one of the protagonists is an endearing bohemian gypsy character who experiences and employs outer worldly mysticism. She is a fun, lovable, and eccentric personality and infuses a breath of fresh air into 'cutesy' story. Unfortunately, Blix is one of the few 'likable' characters in the first half of the book, even the other main protagonist, Marnie, who is so unlikeable. Not in a mean unlikeable way but in an irritating, tiring, annoying - way. Then, just like that, all the characters came alive. All the delightful, intriguing co-stars who live in the neighborhood where Blix, now Marnie, lives. When Marnie travels to Brooklyn after the death of Blix, who after meeting Marnie one time, leaves her brownstone in her will, - with stipulations. Marnie becomes a similar endearing character, however annoyingly fickle she is in her personal relationships. Then there is the lobster scene...hilariously funny! 41/120
Tell Me More, Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan. 'It's not important why someone hurts, only that they do' - one of the wisest quotes Kelly spoke, although there were more. I laughed quite a few times and cringed even more at the vulgar content (I'm just not used to this speak but understand that Corrigan was coming to us in the raw). Yet, at the same time, I appreciated her honesty. The chapter entitled Onward, one of those 12 things she is finding it hard to say is a letter to a dear friend who died and can I just say, I cried. Bring tissues. 42/120
The Color Purple by Alice Walker. The critically acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize winning story, The Color Purple, unabashedly confronts poverty and segregation in the deep American South between wars, an in-your-face, please hear this - tale. It is a force to be reckoned - read. It is exhausting and excruciatingly painful, but compulsory. The Color Purple demands our attention. It is the story of a young - too young for the life she is dealt - black girl, Celie living in that poverty and segregated life where repeated rape by her 'father' is her normal. She has two children at way too young an age, taken from her. She is separated from her beloved sister and is trapped into an ugly marriage. Then, she meets a glamorous singer, Shug, a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually, through her relationship with Shug, Celie discovers her own indelible spirit. 43/120
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. As one reviewer puts it "The Good Earth is packed with cautionary of wealth and idleness, tradition and progression and lust." And, what one detests may be exactly what is necessary. The Good Earth is riddled with character and one could examine each one individually and woven within is the old adage 'with more money comes great power' and the undisclosed side-note, 'with more money, more problems. Unless one is able to reign greed and idleness and utilize wisdom and character in the process. 44/120
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam. Exceptional! Some of my numerous take-away's: Plan the week ahead on Sunday both work and personal; Read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; 'Putting first things first'; Prioritize a Sabbath; Doing the morning thing just fine, but assess that first work hour; Focus on 3 daily priority goals plus 3 small steps towards longer goals - a 'push' goal; habits and accountability; take time each day to improve at the tasks associated with my job - practice; paying attention puts a deposit in your account; write out a week long schedule of everything I do; Read 168 Hours; List of 100 Dreams. 45/120
We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter by Celeste Headlee. The book should have been titled an essay on how we talk to people not how to talk...because there weren't any helpful hints on how to have those conversations that matter. She explained well how today's society falls short in their conversations but little on what we can do about it, or how to have the better conversation. Any examples she used of herself were condescending and arrogant. Although there was a lot of underlying speak on 'if you don't agree with my stance politically than you're not able to have a conversation that matters', but I would have been excited if she'd actually explained what went wrong in a particular conversation and what might one do with the next. Definitely, disappointed. Just Meh. 46/120
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I love, loved this book. A long love letter from a dying Iowa reverend, father, whose own father and grandfather were reverends, to his young son. Sound boring? It is so far from boring. Though not promoted as such, it is, however, Christian fiction at its best - exquisite prose, filled-to-the-brim quotable, beautiful sentences. A gorgeous, rich, evocative, and often wise, yet humble account of a life lived long and wide, deep and hard. Man, this was just some kind of wonderful. It is definitely going on my top book list of the year. I could easily see Gilead being my favorite book of the year. 47/120
Everybody, Always by Bob Goff. An amazing follow-up to Goff's wildly popular Love Does (a book everyone on the planet should read). Everybody, Always simply continues Goff's energetic, enthusiastic, less than subtle humorous anecdotes that speak about loving the hard to love, loving the difficult, loving everybody, always, even your enemies. Here's the cool part: Practically, he shows the reader exactly how to love everybody, always. The stories, individually laid out in chapters, will often blow your mind. His stories are about loving the hard and even his enemies. People we think don't deserve our love because of their actions, because of what they've done, but Goff will just that quick turn the tables on your heart. Jeff and I read Everybody, Always together each morning. It is our fifth consecutive book we've read together since September 2018. Nope, we're not stopping anytime soon. 48/120
Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. Riveting! An atmospheric, beautiful, passionate generational story filled with history of Cuba. Next Year in Havana follows swiftly, decadently after the lives of two women, a grandmother Elisa and her granddaughter, Marisol. Elisa, grows up in 1950's Cuba when Batista fell and Fidel rises to power, both leaders not what Cuba needs. Marisol, having heard of Cuba her whole life from her grandmother, travels to Cuba to fulfill her grandmother's request - spread her ashes on her beloved Cuba and to see Cuba for herself not just through the eyes of her grandmother. What Marisol finds is far more than she ever could have imagined. Interesting lines through the book: "Truth in Cuba is constantly being redefined so much so that it is now meaningless", "Next Year in Havana - it's the toast we never stop saying, because the dream of it never comes true", "People have radically different views on what means freedom", and one line sounded so similar to a line out of the movie A Few Good Men I thought I was actually hearing Jack Nicholson saying the line, "Spare me the youthful condemnation. How do you think I keep this family safe? Do not come for my help then cast stones at me for the manner in which I am able to deliver it." The love stories weaved in the historical drop setting of Cuba are breathtaking. Achingly...overwhelming...tugging at the heart strings. Aside from all that it is the history of Cuba that I adored. Because I know nothing about Cuba except Fidel Castro and oppression and communism. 49/120