What I’ve Been Reading

For the last few years, it has been my goal to read more. I was always the friend with her nose in a book, but life has a way of making me feel really *busy* at times, and then I notice that I haven’t read anything of substance in a while. I think we all read small clips of articles or news each day via social media and other apps, but it’s a much different experience than reading a newspaper or book!

In 2017, I didn’t put any pressure on myself to read a certain number of books, but I did commit to tracking my reads on Goodreads, if for no other purpose than to just know the number of books I read during the year! Since you can track start to finish date on this website, looking back I see times where I read constantly, and other times where I read one book per month. I like this log and have already continued into 2018. The Type A part of me loves this organization. So as I start book #10 this year, I want to share my thoughts on my reads so far.

– Books That I Loved –

My top three books so far are Year of Yes, The Hate U Give, and Capital Gaines.

Year of Yes is an autobiography and that is one of my favorite kinds of books to read! I love hearing from people about their own lives. It’s probably why I like reading blogs so much. Other people’s thoughts are just interesting to me. 🙂 Plus, I am a huge fan of Shonda’s shows, so I feel like I’ve gotten to “know” her over the years. I have a whole list of fun facts about Shonda Rhimes in my brain after reading this book so somebody quiz me!


The Hate U Give
follows the life of a sixteen year old girl who attends a fancy prep school, and witnesses one of her childhood friends get shot by a policeman on the way home from a party one night. Unfortunately, this is a scenario that we have seen on the news many times in the last few years, and it was really interesting to see the story from someone else’s point of view, although it is a fictional story. I have nothing but great things to say about the story and I can’t wait to see how they portray this in a movie next year.

And of course, Capital Gaines…I just loved this. I read The Magnolia Story by Joanna last year, and I loved reading this second book from Chip’s point of view. Although everyone under the sun loves Fixer Upper and the Gainses’, I just have to say I have been watching since the first season way before anyone knew who they were. 😉

– Books That Were Good –

Little Fires Everywhere is a book that I have heard so much about, but I really had no idea what it was about before reading it. This story is about a single mom and daughter who move to an Ohio town that is essentially a utopia, and they are in close relationship with the seemingly perfect Richardson family. There were a lot of secrets among the 9 “main” characters, yet I still found myself waiting for something shocking to happen.

I have heard so many great things about Taylor Jenkins Reid, so recently I’ve read One True Loves and Maybe In Another Life. I really enjoyed Maybe In Another Life because after the first part of the storyline was set up, each chapter alternated back and forth between two different paths the main character could have taken in life. The author never revealed which path the character took, and yet it wasn’t like one of those “choose your adventure books” either because you never chose what happened next. I really had to think about which scenario I saw the character in, because it seemed like she could have gone either way and I wasn’t sure if I preferred one to the other!

One True Loves was about a woman who married her high school sweetheart, only to become a widow on their first anniversary when his helicopter crashed. Once she has moved on and gotten re-engaged, her first husband is found. I mean! I did enjoy seeing how this story played out because again, I wasn’t sure if I preferred one relationship to the other. I don’t know if I will continue reading this author. They are light, easy reads, but I always seem to leave the book feeling so-so.

– Books I Abandoned –

“Abandoning” a book is something that I used to teach as a second grade teacher. 🙂 I am not very good at this myself, but essentially, abandoning a book gives you permission to quit reading when you realize you aren’t really that interested. I think most of us will admit we have pushed through books just to count it as “read” before!

I abandoned You Don’t Have To Live Like This by Benjamin Markovits. I think it was recommended to me in my library app, so I put it on reserve and went to pick it up the next day. However, I never found myself connecting with the main character and I couldn’t get a sense of where the story was going. It also only has a rating of 2.9 on Goodreads. Oh, well!

– Book Confessions –

I “read” Single State of Mind by Andi Dorfman on Audible. Listening to her narrate her story was like listening to a 9 hour podcast. I loved every minute, and now when I watch her Instagram story, it feels like a friend is talking. Hahaha

I read the first 100 and last 70 pages of a book, and seriously thought about quitting there. I have never in my life skipped ahead and read the end of a book, but The Break Down by B.A. Paris had me so nervous I had to know what was going to happen! I realized recently that I can read mysterious or “scary” books if the main character is strong and confident (i.e. The Woman In Cabin 10 and Behind Closed Doors. Both main characters are constantly thinking about how to get out of their situations). If the main character is nervous and freaking out, then so am I. In this case, the main character was about losing her mind, and I couldn’t even get out of bed for fear of someone grabbing my feet! Once I read the end, I went back the next day and read the middle, and I was much less nervous. 🙂 YAY for reading a scary book. Haha!

 

 

On My Bookshelf [March]

Well, I just joined the Arlington County Public Library, and then a month later (aka this weekend), I paid my first late fee. 😉 Last Sunday, I remembered that my books were due and I dropped them off while I was out doing errands. But, while I was collecting them from around my room, I left one behind because I honestly thought it was mine! It was the one I liked best anyways, so no surprise that I tried to keep it, right?!

Me Before You
Jojo Moyes

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I read this book in a day, so I’ll let you be the judge of whether or not I liked it. Ha! I truly had no interest in reading this book until I saw that it was becoming a movie. But in its defense, I also didn’t really know the storyline, and once I did, I knew it was one that I would like.

This story starts with the main character, Lou, losing her job. She works at a cafe in a small town in England and she loves it! The owner of the cafe suddenly needs to leave town, and so he does…leaving Lou with no job. Now in her twenties, she never went to college and never really thought about what kind of job she would like to have. The career center in her town places her in the most random of jobs until finally she becomes a caretaker for a former London businessman, Will. He was paralyzed in an accident and is not interested in embracing his new life in a wheelchair. He’s sarcastic and mean, but Lou gives back a little of the sass that he gives and they end up becoming friends. She wants to badly for him to see the bright side of life again, and her job as his caretaker suddenly becomes so much more than just a job. I really loved how this story unfolded because even though you think you might be able to guess the ending, it really ends in a completely “un-Hollywood” way and so I am interested to see how it plays out on film. I am listening to the sequel, After You, on audiobook right now, and again, I have no idea what the storyline is, so I will keep you posted. 🙂

Then Came You
Jennifer Weiner

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I remember buying a sample of this book on my Kindle and being highly annoyed when the first chapter and a half ended. I wanted to know what happened! I finally bought it at a book sale at the library this summer for the low, low price of $1. 🙂

This story weaves together the lives of Annie, India, Bettina, and Jules. These four women are brought together through motherhood, in one way or another. Egg donor, adoptive mom, surrogate mom, mother as stated in a will…there is a little bit of everything in this book. Each of the main characters has a chapter and it is not confusing at all to switch from point of view to point of view because the chapter that follows goes along with the one that precedes it. Jules is an Ivy League college senior when she decides to donate her eggs to earn money to help her family. Annie is a stay at home mom who never thought about anything else besides being a mom when she decides to become a surrogate to help support her family and regain her sense of purpose. India has climbed the social ladder all the way to the very top, marrying a very rich New York City businessman who she actually decides she loves. When they decide to have a baby together, Bettina (rich businessman’s daughter), starts to look into India’s past because she is convinced this woman is not as she seems. Even though these four lives could not be more different, there is a big sense of friendship and community woven throughout this book!

If: Trading Your If Only Regrets for God’s What If Possibilities
Mark Batterson

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This is my pastor’s latest book and I am working my way through it chapter by chapter. There is a part inside of everyone that wonders, “What if….” but usually, that voice is quieted by our thoughts of the past and wondering what we could have done better. If only I said this/did this/looked like that/read this book/took that job etc. etc. etc. I am excited to read more about how “what if…” possibilities can define my life because to me, that represents forward thinking, and we all know we’re moving towards the future anyway, so you might as well think that way. 😉

What have you been reading?

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Book Talk [February]

My favorite thing to do is cuddle up with my big purple blanket, a cup of coffee, and a book. I have found that the Internet…and Netflix…and apps on my phone…well, they make this very simple task of curling up with a book seem like a challenge. But, I am always much happier and more relaxed when I make time to read. 🙂

Here’s what I checked out from the library this month:

The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower

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This nonfiction book is all about life inside the White House. The author gathered these stories from White House domestic staff like the butlers, maids, gardeners, maintenance men…you know, those people who work there for years and years and see more than one Presidential family come through. It was SO interesting to read how they prepare for a new family and what kinds of things they are expected to do. Plus, most of the people who have these jobs have them because someone in their family worked at The White House, too, so they REALLY know a lot about the people who have lived there! When I visited Renwick Gallery a few weeks ago, I waited in a long line outside the museum, which happens to be right by The White House, and I talked my friend’s ear off with all the new facts and stories I learned.

A few fun ones:

Lyndon B. Johnson was obsessed with having a very intricate shower built in his bathroom. Ha!

The Clintons were the loudest, most argumentative First Couple.

One of the butlers joked that he had never heard Mary J. Blige played in The White House until the first night the Obamas were there. 🙂

The First Families pay for all their own food! –> I thought this one was so interesting because there are so many luxuries that they have just by living in that house, so it was a surprise to read they still have that same normal expense as the rest of us!

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

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Perhaps my FAVORITE book. I started it on a Saturday night and finished it on Sunday morning, thanks to Blizzard Jonas. This historical fiction book is about two sisters living in London during WWII. As the war moved closer to England, children were sent to the country, with the thought that they would be safer there should anything happen to the city. The first chapter starts out in present day and HOOKS you right from the start. I couldn’t wait to see what happened, and I couldn’t predict it, either! I was so sad when this story ended because I wanted to keep reading about the characters. It was the perfect ending. This is my favorite time period to read about, which I always feel weird saying, because there was obviously a war taking place, but it is just fascinating to read about everything that went on at that time.

The Trump Card by Ivanka Trump

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You are more than welcome to judge me for this read, but I got this book from the library in audio book form and I really enjoyed listening to it on the way to and from work. This book is essentially written for someone who is just beginning their career, and I loved the perspective and motivation she provided for someone (like me) in that stage of life. Though she did relate many of her explanations to the business world, I still felt myself relating and engaged. She only talks of her father as a father in this book, and that was enough. 😉 #savethepolitics

I stole 2 of these 3 book recommendations from Allie’s recent book post, so now I need some more help! What should I read next?

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Bookworm Wednesday: January

I tell my students all the time that I love to read, but I’ve found in the last few months that I don’t practice what I preach. I DO love to read, I DO have a stack of books waiting to be read, and I DO scroll through Instagram and fall down the Internet rabbit hole every time I have a free moment. I learned how easy it is to survive without social media (minus my blog) when I gave it up for Lent last year, and it is one of my resolutions this year to make less social media part of my life. I have a life outside of those apps, so I need to go live it. And I’ve been doing a lot of that living thing during the holiday season, so that’s a good omen for the new year. 🙂

Today I’m talking books with Molly & Katie!

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The first book I read over the holidays was a book chosen at complete random. I have a box of books in the back of my car that I was given for free and have been meaning to take into my classroom. Since I always forget the books are there, they made the trip with me back to Pittsburgh instead of making it into my classroom in Virginia. 🙂 I was waiting (and waiting, and waiting…) to pick my brother up from work one day and I decided to go get a book to read while I waited. I did want to read, but there was also terrible service in the parking lot of my brother’s work and I was wasting a lot of data (and patience) trying to make everything load. #firstworldproblems

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ANYWAYS, I found the first book in The Babysitter’s Club series and I was so excited! I still have every single Babysitter’s Club book at my mom’s house somewhere. I loved the whole series, I loved the Super Special series that came out a little bit later, and I loved the Babysitter’s Little Sister series, too. Reading a book is like going to another world or another life for a little while, and these books were part of my little kid life. There were a lot of parts that I remembered while I was reading and then there were some character traits and events that I didn’t remember at all, so it was a fun read! And obviously a quick one since it’s written for a younger audience. 🙂

The Internet: that place you go to post way too many details about your life and make friends with people you’ve never met. Or something.  The below book was brought to me by one of my best blogging friends, Molly, who is also the co-host of this link-up. #shamelessplug

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I bought the book from the “Shop My” page on her blog and I feel very creative with my side by side picture (Molly left, me on the right). #dontmakefun #youknowyouwantto

 I purchased both Dancing Through Life and Balancing It All with my aunt in mind, because she loves Candace Cameron Bure. I kept this one for myself and gave the other to my aunt and I can’t wait to trade with her! Dancing Through Life is all about Candace’s journey on Dancing With The Stars with a lot of her faith in there, too. I am not a DWTS superfan, but it’s really interesting to read about her experience. I am especially loving reading about how she stayed close to the Lord throughout her experience because I tend to think I can handle everything on my own and I KNOW I need to pray about the situation and/or the people before I take action. I am very inspired by her confidence in herself, her faith, and surrounding herself with only the people who will lift her up. That is what I want for myself.

I feel like I cheated with the third book because I didn’t really READ it…

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Tell me you feel the same way as Rory about books?! #gilmoregirlsforever

My aunt gifted me Michael Strahan’s new biography Wake Up Happy for Christmas…but I recieved the audiobook so I could listen to it while I traveled!

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My mom told me if she listened to an audiobook, she would fall asleep. Ha! I love listening to podcasts, so I figured an audiobook would be similar and I would like it. The coolest part is that Michael is reading the book himself! I love watching Kelly and Michael when I’m home on a weekday, so hearing him talk all about his life was really fun. I listened to it while I drove back to DC and every day on the way to and from work this week…and now it’s over and I’m sad! If only Kelly Ripa would record an audiobook, too. 🙂

This really is the story of Michael’s life, but he weaves in positivity and motivation into each chapter (or phase) of his life. I had NO idea that he was one of six children, from Texas, raised in Germany, a father while he was in college, a long-distance father as his wife and kids went back to Germany, or a really amazing football player. Sure, I knew he played football and had 4 kids from two marriages, but beyond that I just knew I liked his charisma on TV! My favorite fun fact that I learned is that his brothers used to call him “Bob”…which he later learned meant “Booty on Back” because he was an overweight middle schooler. Poor guy! It gets better…he used his own money to buy a Jane Fonda VHS and worked out by himself every day after school!

I related to him a lot as he spoke of his experiences because he is a very introverted guy, but he is also very thoughtful and tries to think about how everything that happens to him can be for something good. I consider myself an introvert and an over-analyzer, so hopefully now that I’ve learned his strategies for waking up happy, I won’t just wake up and be happy…I’ll be happy all day long. 🙂

What have you been reading?!

Bookworm

  My very favorite show in middle school was Gilmore Girls. I started watching part way through the series, but of course I went out and bought the first few seasons on DVD because duh. This was before the days of Netflix. Now I have the entire series of DVDs and I rewatch them all the time! Rory Gilmore and I relate on so many levels, but the biggest one is that of books. I feel like she read different genres than I tend to read, but we’re both always in the middle of several books and we both always have a book on us at all times. 🙂

I was on Pinterest recently and I saw this list:

All 339 Books Referenced In Gilmore Girls

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to start crossing books off that list. 😉

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One of my goals for 2015 is to read 52 books. I am getting anxious because I think of June as the halfway point of the year (because it is) and I only have 13 books on my “already read” list for the year! Check out my list in the One Year, Many Pages tab of this blog. 🙂 I don’t want to be cliche and say, “Well, now that it’s summer, I’m going to have so much more time…”, but that is partially true. And the other part is I just need to get off my laptop. SO MANY BLOGS TO READ AND PICTURES TO PIN!

The month isn’t over yet, so I’m hoping to finish 3 books. Here’s what I’ve read this May…

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All over blog world (since I told you I have been a blog reading machine lately;)), everyone is raving about Liane Moriarty’s books! I really liked this book…I read it by the pool the weekend after I turned in my biggest paper of the semester. Pure relaxation! I loved her writing style and her characters…you learn a lot about a bunch of different characters who are all connected in some way as the book progresses. The only complaint I had was that it seemed like every female character was divorced, widowed, or in an unhappy relationship! I suppose I should have expected SOME animosity somewhere since the title infers that a man is keeping a secret, but still. I have rose-colored glasses on about love. Couldn’t ONE of the couples have been happy?! Haha take a read and let me know what you think. 🙂

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Since I moved to the DC area last summer, I have been attending National Community Church. Our pastor, Mark Batterson, has written several books and he gave a copy of his newest book to us at service a few weeks ago! I was so excited to read this book because it’s all about making the life YOU have more exciting. It’s saying yes to adventure, whatever that may be for you, and sharing your experiences with others. Life is meant to be lived and loved with other people by your side. Pastor Mark’s mentor, Dick Foth, coauthored this book and it was the first book he has ever written! He has given the sermon at church a few times since I started attending and he is such a good storyteller that I knew his writing would be just as amazing. This book is SO relatable, no matter how old you are, and I love how they use life experiences and Scripture to make ideas more meaningful. The chapters are split into two parts: “Dick’s Story” and “Mark’s Story”, so you could easily read a few pages, set it down, and pick it up to read later. READ IT!

Sidenote: it used to make me cringe when I would see my aunt reading a book and highlighting it like crazy. I like a well-read, worn book…but if it’s highlighted or has notes in it, I don’t want it! I want to make my own connections as I read…I don’t want to be swayed by someone else’s. And look what I did to A Trip Around the Sun…

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So no, you cannot borrow my copy. Sorry. 🙂

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Book #3 is a work in progress. We have a store in Pittsburgh called Half-Price Books which I LOVE because you can sell your already read books to them or buy books that others have already read at discounted prices. And they always have the newest titles, too! There is no Half-Price Books in Maryland, so one weekend a few months ago when my mom was out shopping, she stopped at this book store to get a few books for me that she thought I might like. I am not far enough into this book yet to give you a full review…but that little red sticker on the front likens this book to The Help, which I loved! So I will keep you updated. 🙂

I’m headed home to Pittsburgh for a few weeks and I’m headed to THE BEACH this weekend so I hope to get lots of reading in soon! As I was writing this post, I saw this link that my friend posted on my Facebook wall…

21 Books From The Last 5 Years That Every Woman Should Read

…NOW I’m overwhelmed! Rory Gilmore’s list plus Huffington Post’s list have me set up for awhile!

And if you are a Gilmore Girls fan and love to read too, you will appreciate this picture. Reason #473 why Dean is basically my dream guy. 🙂

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Linking up with Narci for Carpool Book Club!