As I press toward my goal of reading 120 Books in 2019 I cannot help feeling grateful for the experience, for the learning, for the living through each book. Immensely enjoyable endeavor does not do justice to my true feelings which awash lingering doubts in my abilities to comprehend books. Then I read You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt and I realized my abilities to comprehend books, to have book club conversations, to grow my knowledge of the mysteries found within books on life, and character development, and prose, and style are learned - by living - or in this case, reading. I think I should know what others know about books and that just isn't so. I can only know what I know about the books I read based on the attention I give to understanding what I am reading and giving words to those feelings.
Today I am sharing what I have been reading in October that includes our Between the Covers book club selection, Cutting For Stone. My book club had some - lively - conversation regarding Cutting For Stone. The evening ended with several of the ladies thanking me for starting the book club because they love it so. I am humbled and blessed!
Because having read Cutting For Stone, which tops at a very hefty read and almost 700 pages, my total books read this month was somewhat less than previous months and I'll have some catching up to do if I am going to meet my goal of 120 books in 2019. That said, here's what I've been reading...
You Learn by Living, Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is considered to be one of the most beloved woman figures of the twentieth century and her simple guide to living a fuller life, through commonsense ideas and heartfelt values have somehow lived on offering us a way of living well. Her keys to a fulfilling life? Learning to Learn; Fear, the Great Enemy; The Uses of Time; The Difficult Art of Maturity; Readjustment is endless; Learning to Be Useful; The Right to Be an Individual; How to Get the Best out of People; Facing Responsibility; How Everyone Can Take Part in Politics; and, Learning to Be a Public Servant. Timeless wisdom, a woman ahead of her time that resonates in any era, You Learn by Living, the book, is a window into Eleanor Roosevelt. 96/120.
The River by Peter Weller. Exquisite words. I felt like I was on the river, in the canoe, facing the elements, enduring the suspense, barely making it out alive. I sat on the edge of fear but it was his matter of fact prose, beautifully descriptive, and with a lyrical structure that captivated, and held me in its grasp. Gritty - and terrifying, at times. Two college students, best friends since freshman orientation when they quickly discovered they were kindred spirits for the water and mountains, hunting and fishing, and books, are on a wilderness canoe trip that began with leisurely paddling, nightly star-gazing, storytelling often, and reading the pages of books but their trip turns dramatically deadly as they are facing the firestorm, literally and figuratively. 97/120
Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Without a hint of doubt, Sacred Marriage is the best book on marriage I have ever read. And, when your hubby likes it, too - win, win! Thomas brings the sacred back into marriage where it has long been but over time has gotten lost in today's views on marriage. Brilliant connection between the sacred, the holiness, and marriage. The End of Me, Battlefield of the Mind, Love Does, The Screwtape Letters, Everybody Always, Cherish, Facing Your Giants, and now, Sacred Marriage. What do these books have in common? These are the books we, Jeff and I, have read over the past year, aloud, together. 98/120
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. 99/120
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. Published in 1944, The Hundred Dresses won a Caldecott Medal and won a Newbery Honor in 1945, The Hundred Dresses is intended for early elementary grades but this timeless story Estes shares, along with Slobodkin's exquisite drawings that set the tone of the story, must be read for all grade levels. Even adults will find themselves within the story somewhere, whether they were or are bullied, or have used subtlety to bully mercilessly. "At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is "never going to stand by and say nothing again." - Amazon. 100/120
Big Dreams, Daily Joys by Elise Blaha Cripe. Fitting that I add Elise's new book, partly about goal setting, to my goal of reading 120 Books in 2019. While there are a few nuggets in the book, and an intriguing and easy-to-read style of writing, the content isn't anything new, especially if you're familiar with Elise's work, her blog, her podcast, her business, even her life. At some point or another she has discussed the topics in the book. But, here's the thing, even though she has, I'm hanging on to the book because it's all in one place and it's inspirational. She writes conversational, like she is communicating with just me and giving me worthy business, life advice. It will, can, give me that jolt of adrenaline to kick start something I might need or want to do. Plus, I'd love to meet Elise in person. 101/120
Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith. I would definitely consider this read more for young adults. It is cutesy and sweet and endearing. Implausible, yes, but it's a fictional story and a young adult romance at that. I adored Hugo! He's a British, biracial teen, one of sextuplets, who recently broke up with his girlfriend and who decided to embark on an American cross-country train ride he was supposed to take with his former girlfriend. Enter Mae with the same first and last name as his former girlfriend, a budding film maker who agrees to accompany Hugo on his travels. Mae was meh. I appreciated that both kids come from loving, solid family backgrounds. Mostly, because it seems books today there has to be something wrong with family dynamics and this was a refreshing change. Hugo's family dynamics are such a clever addition, one of sextuplets, and Smith handled the very real possibilities exceptionally well. I understand why Smith chose to make Mae's family dynamics unconventional (she has two dads), and while I loved that the family loves each other and are on solid ground I felt the writing surrounding Mae's family life was forced, and unrealistic. Oh, and while the ending was sweet it felt rushed, like enough already, let's move on. That said, I would still recommend this book to young adults, and well, even adults will enjoy it. 102/120
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. Intriguing. Heavy-laden with futuristic and technologically advanced language made it difficult to - understand - but, the first person connection trumped the over-my-head discourse. I wanted to know what happened next, and why, every turn of the page. Until about page 350 then the story went way out in left field and the excitement of wondering what happens next came to a screeching halt with aghast and - meh, like the editor meant to take that part out but accidentally left it in. There followed very small snippets of the books exciting beginnings, but, unfortunately, the remainder of the book is dribble and unfulfilling. 103/120