Just prior to last New Year’s, I had joined Goodreads on the recommendation of a friend. I really like the app and especially love that you can set your own reading challenge. Last year, I chose to set my goal to a lofty twelve books (don’t laugh. I hadn’t read a whole lot in awhile because of having babies in the house and working on my Master’s degree). Low and behold, I doubled that goal by the end of last year, reading 24 books. I was actually surprised I had read that many. I had planned to up my goal to at least twenty for 2019, but when last year went dark on me at the end, I knew I should maybe pull that number back a little. So, I set my goal to fifteen. (There are several people I’m “friends” with on Goodreads that have reading goals of 45+ books! I don’t know how a person does that with kids! I am super impressed…and very curious.)
So, when January came, I tried to read. I could not comprehend or retain anything I read. I experimented with several different genres. Aside from one book that I struggled to get through in January, I could not read. I knew it was the grief. So, I shelved my books and stuck with crossword puzzles for awhile. Once March hit, I guess my mind opened back up again. I read four books. April may see me beat that, as I just started my fourth book tonight. Anyway, below are the books I’ve read this year and a quick synopsis on my thoughts.
I read Haley Stewart’s book in January. I had been eyeing it for awhile, and when the Kindle version went on super sale I downloaded it. I really enjoyed reading it. This has where, I believe, God has been calling my family for awhile–to pare down in multiple facets of our family life and focus on what matters. Her story fascinated me and I enjoyed reading about the huge leap of faith her family took. I did think it was definitely geared towards Catholic families, as one of the last chapters talks in depth about using NFP (natural family planning) as opposed to birth control (which as a Catholic and a pro-life person, I totally support). I really loved the messages and ideas in this book.
Okay, this book left me speechless. Father Stinnissen’s book is so small, but so incredibly deep. and I would recommend this highly to any Christian or Catholic. He breaks down abandonment to God’s will into three steps or phases. Each phase takes you further towards total abandonment to His will. His descriptions and passages were so inspiring and beautifully written, I kept having to stop and just steep in it in my head. I underlined so many passages and then lent it to a friend because everyone should read this book. Absolutely amazing.
I really enjoy watching Chip and Joanna on television. I was really sad when they decided to step back from their reality television series (even though I totally get their reasons). So, the Christmas after his book came about (I believe it was 2017), I got this for my husband as a gift. I had been meaning to read it and finally opened it in March. I have to say, the first half was really good! I read through it really fast. But, the second half just dragged. For me, I feel like Joanna is the story teller and Chip is the motivational speaker. This was difficult for me to finish.
I actually blogged about Kristin Hannah’s book, so I will try not to rave endlessly about this book. I started it in the fall of last year, when my dad got sick. I spent a lot of time reading it next to his hospital bed while he was sedated or sleeping. I was nearly done when I turned it back into the library in December. I needed some time, but checked it back out and finished it in March. This was a very stirring account of the atrocities of World War II. It was dark and very intense at times, but it was such an incredible read. I really struggled with it in the last few chapters but made myself finish it. I cannot recommend this book enough and will be re-reading it at some point in the future.
This was on the new releases table at my library and my friend actually picked it up and handed it to me (my love of classic literature is no secret). I read it in three days. It’s an easy read about the life of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. My only complaint at times is that the sentence structure and descriptions were very simple and that bugged me a little. But the book itself was fascinating and I truly feel sorry for Shelley. When I studied her in college, I remember my dad telling me that she lived with the poet Shelley for years while he was still married! She really had a tough life, though she didn’t really make the best choices. This was a fun, easy read.
My sister gave me this book back in 2011. But, because I was working on my Master’s degree and pregnant with my second baby, I didn’t ever get to finish it. While perusing my shelves after finishing my last book, I pulled this one off and decided to finally read the entire book. I read it in two days. What a sweet (and true) account of a couple’s lives during World War II. The woman was a headstrong, determined person set on finishing her degree even if it meant not getting married for awhile; her eventual husband waited years for her, writing her letters to convince her to marry him. Such a sweet read accounting their life story.
Anyone who knows me at all, knows I am a huge Flannery O’Connor fan. I first read her in college and found her delightfully dark and beautifully spiritual. Several years later, when I was preparing to write my Master’s thesis, I decided I wanted to do at least a chapter on her. Hers ended up being my longest chapter. While I was writing it, I ordered this book but never read the whole thing. I just used a few chapters in my research. I decided to read it cover to cover this week, and just loved it. She was a deeply religious but hilarious person and learning more about the spiritual/religious side of her life was such a joy. Last year, I read her Prayer Journal, so this just added to my knowledge regarding her spirituality. I would highly recommend this book to any Southern Lit or Flannery O’Connor fan.
I’m looking forward to finishing some fun books on my To Be Read list. I just started Anne Bogel’s book I’d Rather Be Reading, which I have been wanting to read since it was published. Also, I am really excited for Mary Lenaburg’s book to be released in May. I have had my copy on pre-order since she first announced it. Another goal is to read a few more historical books; I have really enjoyed delving further into World War II’s history over the last couple of years. I am really enjoying checking out books from the library that are outside my comfort zone and learning to expand my reading breadth. Here’s to reading more books and my next book-ish update! Who knows? Maybe I’ll beat March’s record of four books. Regardless, as I have read more, I have seen my children reading more. And that is a beautiful thing to come from the love of books.