Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Book Reflections

I head back to school in just a few short days. :( While this break has been really good, refreshing, and relaxing I've spent pretty much all of it recovering from oral surgery. I'm glad that I had the time to have the procedure during the break and didn't have to take time off work. But my surgeon said 7 days for recovery and its becoming more like 10-12. Today is the first day I haven't NEEDED to take any pain medication but the process is slow and steady. It's a good lesson in patience for me, I am typically pretty fast paced so slowing down is a good thing. And not having the desire to eat too much junk food, because of a sore jaw, is also a good thing...

The break has given me some great time to do some reading and it made me realize that a few months back I promised you all a few book reviews. Also the other night while on a date, my husband and I spent some time talking through the different books we've read in 2011 and which ones were well worth it and which one's were 'meh'.
So here is what I read in 2011

'1776' by David McCullough~ Well worth it

~It was really pretty good, I'm not much of a history person and I really had to 'try'. So I grabbed some notecards and took notes on who was who, because he name drops alot and I was losing track of who did what. Once I got all that straight I thought it was well worth reading and I learned a ton and we actually own it so I hope to revisit it from time to time.

'Please understand me II' by David Keirsey~ Well Worth it

~This is a personality trait book that I read back in the winter. Its one of the best I've read because its pretty scientific. I really liked it from this standpoint. He doesn't use stars or animals or anything like that. He just lays out the main types of personalities and then the variants within each. Plus the author uses alot of references to philosophers as well as founders in the world of psychology that I personally found interesting.

'One Thousand Gifts" By Ann Voskamp~ Well Worth it

~Okay so I totally jumped on the band wagon. I started reading this book (after a few week wait for it at the library) around the time that a handful of friends where reading it or had recommended it. I also read this book back in the winter. It was VERY good and really really made me think about the way I live my everyday life, its not a light read at all but WONDERFUL nonetheless. A word of warning to non-literary people like me. I found that it took me about three chapters to really 'get into it.' The way the book itself is written takes some time to digest. I found the message the author was trying to convery very poetic at times and other times very obvious. I will definitely re-read this book in the future and I will be ready for the deep heartfelt lessons it offers. It's a book that can change your life no doubt about it.

'Fear No Evil' Brady Boyd~ Well Worth it

~My family attends the church where Brady is the pastor. We have been attending for years now and have experienced all the ups and downs that go along with being a part of a big church family. I loved the book and took so many nuggets and treasures away from Brady's re-telling of a very trying time in our church body's history. Its a book about inspiration, resiliance, and the power of God.

'Bittersweet' by Shauna Niequist~ WELL WORTH IT!!!!! One of the best books I've read in 5 years.

~A dear sweet friend recommended this book to me months before I was able to get it from the library. I had this sucker in the hold que for what felt like forever! I finally read this book in the spring and remember crying and laughing on the same page, and on an airplane too which was somewhat embarrassing. The author simply shares her story of real life changes, real life hurts, and real life joys. She's genuine, funny, and deep all at the same time while making you, the reader, feel like you are sitting across from her on your couch with some coffee in your hand. The title is bittersweet and rightfully so the entire book is about embracing the bitter and the sweet parts of our lives in order to truly savor what we have. It was an awesome book. Go reserve it at your library right it then you'll want to buy it.

While reading 'Bittersweet' I put this authors other book 'Cold Tangerines' on hold at the library and there were like a billion holds in front of me so I took a break from reading for the summer and watched alot of Ann of Green Gables, Glee, and Pride and Prejudice. We had tons of company too my sister-in-law, my sister, and mom made the rotations through our house for pretty much the whole summer so we had plenty to keep us busy. Also after reading the past four books I just really needed some think time. Time to digest what I'd read and just let things rest a bit in my soul. I journaled alot during the summer and spent many hours on my deck listening to my kids run through the sprinkler while I wrote my little heart was. wonderful. As a teacher I'm finding that I also really need to prepare myself mentally for the upcoming school year so the 'mental break' was really needed and very important, especially toward the end of the summer.

'Cold Tangerines' By Shauna Neiquest~ Meh.

~I was thrilled when this book finally became available at the library. I think I was hoping it'd be as good as 'Bittersweet' which she wrote after she wrote Cold Tangerines. It was by no means bad but just not as good. I still found the book refreshing and nourishing but it was much lighter and didn't give me as many deep thought moments. But really that's okay sometimes too and in light of the school year having just started, it was pretty appropriate.

'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen~ Well worth it.

~At this point I just wanted some fiction, a story that I knew already and had on hand for a quick grab (I own all of Jan Autens classics, I can't say that I've read them a ton or even every one... just my owning them makes me feel smart :) I've seen the different films based on this book about a zillion times so the story wasn't what compelled me to finish it, it was the language. To be transported to a different place and different time was fun.

'The Twilight Series' By Stephenie Meyer~ Well worth it.

~Okay so admittedly I've read this series about three times total. I have found myself re-reading the series each year since the last book came out. Say what you will about the content. But I have found some deeper themes in between the lines that are worth thinking about. And its just an entertaining set of books. A friend at work calls it 'Smut' and to be honest we all need a modest amount of that in our life, it keeps us balanced in my opinion.

'Water for Elephants' By Sara Gruen~ Meh

~This book was not one that I will read again and again. I typically won't with fiction unless its a straight page turner and even then I have to put some serious distance between my reading them to enjoy the book a 2nd or 3rd time. I enjoyed the book in general but it wasn't a page turner for me. I thought the author did a great job with the content of the original life of a circus train. If you are contemplating this book just for the sake of literary entertainment then its a good choice.

'Why Gender Matters' By Dr. Leonard Sax~ WELL WORTH IT!!! One of the best parent books I've read.

~This book is going in my parenting and teaching arsenal. It was WONDERFUL. I have never found a book that talks so clearly about the fundamental neurological and physiological differences in boys and girls and how they need to be taught and parented differently simply because of their differing genders. He backs everything up with research and studies and he lays out different examples to highlight his points. He also does alot of 'bottom line' writing. Getting to the point without lingering too long on a topic which I like, its keeps the book moving. For an educational psychology book it was in my opinion VERY easy to read. It was great!

Okay well that rounds out my reading for 2011. I'm not a huge reader, in fact I have friends who set a goal to read a book a week. There is no way I can accomplish that feat. But after all is said and done I read 13 books in the last year and only 2 of them were so-so. Some of them are pretty popular right now and some of them you may not have heard of. But either way I hope this gave you a little bit of a glimpse into my mind and heart this past year.

Til next time, remember to find beauty in your midst!


  1. "Please understand me" is really great!

  2. Thanks for the book recommendations, I've already put two of them on hold!