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Category Archives: Book Club

Book Club: Anne of Green Gables

This is the book I own that I’ve never read. I bought it quite some time ago at Good Will. I adored this movie as a young girl. My grandma bought me the complete series of books for Christmas one year because she knew how much I loved the movie, but I just never really got into the books. I thought it was about time I read this one.

The movie version of this book is about 80% word for word out of this book. There were maybe 4 chapters that weren’t in the movie at all, but there were more details in various chapters that were left out of the movie. You definitely know Marilla more in the book. You get a better sense of her feelings toward Anne, which were very endearing. What was not endearing, was the fact that she is pretty racist in a couple of spots. The book also has a lot of wordy descriptions, which are consistent with Anne’s character, but not consistent with my reading preferences. So all in all, watch the movie and skip this book.

A side note that was kind of interesting about this book was that I read it in the sauna at the gym, and several people struck up conversation with me for reading this one. I found that pretty interesting. My next sauna read is a much more contemporary book. We’ll see if people care to engage with me about this new book.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Book Club

 

Book Club: The Outsiders

This book fits in the category of a book published before I was born. I’ve had a couple of friends suggest this book to me multiple times, but for some reason I never picked it up. I thoroughly enjoyed it! It had more plot twists than I expected and really engaged me from beginning to end. It made me think of some really sweet kids who have been in my life over the years. I know very little of the background to this book, but my understanding is that the author wrote it when she was a kid because she didn’t think the books she was reading in school appropriately reflected the real experiences of teenagers. Just like several of the other books I read on this challenge, boy has my life experience been so vastly different from so many others. If I were to write a book about the experiences of teenagers, this is not the book I would write. Regardless, I enjoyed this book and appreciated the way issues of class are brought up in ways accessible to younger students. I can see why a lot of my 7th-graders read this when I taught middle school.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2016 in Book Club

 

Book Club: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

This book fulfills the “Banned Books” category in my reading challenge. Reports of why this book was banned include reasons such as the description of rape, the hatred toward whites in the book, and profanity. Yup. That’s all in there. I also think this is an important book to read. It’s important to read about the experiences of people who aren’t like you. I am nothing like Maya Angelou. Nothing about my upbringing is similar to hers. Reading her book was enlightening to me. It was hard, and it was beautiful. The most notable moments in the book to me were as follows:

–The molestation and rape were obviously disturbing, but I have lived with an elementary aged child for almost two years now, and I have my own sweet little daughter. I can guarantee that my reaction to these parts of the book were more so than they would have been over two years ago. I was so disturbed that I practically had a physical reaction of disgust in wanting to protect little Maya.

–The experiences she had living with and without her parents. These were just so very indicative of the differences in our lives. Again, something important for people to wrestle with.

–The ending, which I think was just one of the most beautiful endings to a book, but perhaps I’m biased after having a little one.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Book Club, Uncategorized

 

Book Club: Bossy Pants

I don’t know why I didn’t read this book sooner. That’s a lie. I know why. I’m not crazy about 30 Rock, and I just always preferred Amy Poehler to Tina Fey. However, this book was super great, and I recommend it to all my friends. Tina Fey provides some great commentary on sexism and feminism and parenting and show business and other relevant topics through a great little narrative about her life. Fun, easy, and quick reading, but still gets you to think about some of the bigger issues in life.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2016 in Book Club

 

Book Club: Nancy Drew and the Lilac Inn

For the book I finished in a day (#2), I chose a Nancy Drew book the nine year old who lives with us got for her birthday. I’ve always wanted to read a Nancy Drew, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I have several thoughts about this book. First, there was so much careful description of all of Nancy s clothes and she always had a dress on except for the pants she wore while padding a canoe. Um…OK. Next, these books have a pretty high vocabulary for the age to which they are aimed. I can’t remember any off the top of my head, of course, but I had to look up a word or two. This was surprising. At least Nancy is pretty smart in all her gender appropriateness. And finally, Nancy gets herself into some really sticky and dangerous situations! I did not expect that. Since there’s about 100 of them, I knew Nancy was going to be OK, but I would have been worried if I didn’t know that as a fact!

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2016 in Book Club

 

Book Club: Go Set a Watchman

For the book I previously abandoned (#9), I chose Go Set a Watchman. I don’t have too much to say about this book because nothing really happens in the story. There’s a whole lot of slow build up for a relatively big argument between two characters and then the book is over. I should give the caveat that I never read To Kill a Mockingbird, and I acknowledge that this argument would have been a bigger deal to me if I had, but still. I had previously abandoned the book about five chapters from the end and was not really motivated to see how it ended if that gives you and frame of reference. Regardless, I can now say that I finished it and I know what all the fuss is about.

 

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Book Club

 

Book Club: Year of Yes

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes fills the “been meaning to read” category (#3 on the book challenge list). In fact, I went from planning to read this, to thinking I might skip it altogether, to devouring it in two days. I absolutely loved this book. Loved it. I know part of why I loved it is because I indulge in Shondaland. Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder are three of my favorite shows. My guilty pleasure in these shows is why I wanted to read the book. What I didn’t know or expect was how empowering and enlightening this book was going to be for me.

In this book Shonda talks about a year of her life in which she started to make more positive decisions for herself. She started saying “Yes” instead of “No.” In that, she shares some really important stories about feminism and equality as well as issues of self-worth and owning your own badassness. I’m really glad I got to read her words on these topics and think about how some of what she talked about applied to me.
Let me give you some context. As most of you know, I used to be a classroom teacher. I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was in gradeschool. I was good at teaching. It came naturally. As a result, I had a decent amount of teacher swagger. I was confident, innovative, and always looking for ways to get better. My desires to get better weren’t because of some doubt in myself or my abilities. It was because I really wanted to always improve. Similarly, that swagger and confidence didn’t come with an attitude of being the best teacher on the planet who couldn’t improve. I knew my strengths and weaknesses. I played to my strengths and looked to others to help with my weaknesses.
Then I went to grad school and slowly but surely, I lost my swagger and confidence in myself. It got to the point where if I was complimented, I almost immediately negated it. I looked at my weaknesses to define me and dismissed strengths as not good enough. I’ve come to think of myself as the weakest link in my program pretty much since I got here. I thought of everyone in my program as superior to me rather than my peers.
So, I’m really going to work on thinking of myself as a badass again. I have strengths. I can do things. I’m not terrible at what I do. Yes, there are people more skilled than me, but that doesn’t discount my skills or my ability to learn or my incredible work ethic. No, I’m not perfect, but I work hard and because of that hard work, I have accomplished a lot. These things are facts, and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging them. In fact, denying them keeps me out of spaces I have worked hard to fill. No one is going to help me fill those spaces. It’s up to me to take them. I’m going to start saying “Yes” in some places I’ve been saying “No” for too long.
All of that introspection to say you should read Shonda’s book. It’s a great read about a really interesting woman.
 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in Book Club

 

Book Club: All the Light We Cannot See

This book fills #11 in the reading challenge–a book that intimidated me. For some reason, I’m not into period books during this season of my life. I remember reading plenty of them in years past, but I just haven’t really been drawn to them recently. As a result, even though EVERYONE was talking about this book last year, I had pretty much zero interest. I was sure it would depress me, I wouldn’t get into it, and I wouldn’t finish. For these reasons, I labeled it as “intimidating”.

So here are my quick thoughts. Like everyone said, it is BEAUTIFULLY written. The descriptions are poetic and simply delicious, for lack of a better word. The narrative is carefully crafted and interwoven over several years and characters but neatly connected at the end. Did it depress me at times? Certainly. It’s a book about war. Depressing is not a deep enough word for what war does to humanity. Did I get into it? Yes. Did I finish? Yes.

Did I think it was amazing? Not exactly. It’s the sort of book that you should relish in. You should enjoy the beautifully written descriptions and the careful themes that are brilliantly present through every chapter. For me, it was a bit slow. I didn’t want to indulge in these things that require indulging. My consumption of this book was sort of like wolfing down a $30 teeny tiny dessert at a fancy pants restaurant. One of those things you should take small bites of and relish and enjoy carefully, follow-up with a sip of coffee, and then carry on to the next. Instead, I was on a race to finish this book before my library rental came up. I knew that if that rental ended, and I had to wait to get the book again, I likely wouldn’t borrow it again and it would remain unfinished. I simply needed to know what happened to the characters, so I cheapened this beautiful book. I don’t regret it, but I acknowledge that I didn’t enjoy this one the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

All that said, I think a big part of why I did this was because it was a book that made my heart heavy, and at this point in my life, I really read to escape. This is not where I wanted to escape to. I don’t want to escape to the scary places, places where I’m fearful for my daughter. Places where I put her in the role of the vulnerable characters and desperately want to protect her. I want to escape to lighter, fluffier, and “safer” places, even if they are completely unrealistic.

Regardless of my own need to escape to a fantasy land where everything is safe and happy, this book really is very good. It’s as good as everyone says and certainly worth the read.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Book Club, Uncategorized

 

Book Club: Redeeming Love

The first book I read for the 2016 reading challenge was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. This book was suggested by my dearest friend, so fulfills number 6 on the challenge list.

The short summary of this book is that it’s a retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea during the Gold Rush era in California.

If you’re familiar with the story of Gomer and Hosea, which I am, and if you assume that Rivers was faithful to the basics of the story, which she was, you pretty much know what’s going to happen from the beginning.
My review is pretty simple. As an allegory for the love given from Christ to the church, this is a pretty great book, albeit kind of weird and cheesy at times. As a romance novel, it does all the things romance novels are intended to do, so I found it pretty awful. Ha! The main male character is totally unrealistic, which makes sense as a stand in for Christ, but problematic to me when thought of as a potential “real” person. Call me a cynical realist, but I’m not a fan of characters like Michael Hosea. Yeah yeah escapist literature and all that, I get it. I also think that some of the really unrealistic expectations women have for men come from books and characters like this. I know I’m raining on some parades here. Almost everyone I know who read the book loves it. As a friend pointed out, I’m just not really into “frilly” books.
All of that said, I will confess that I shed a tear at the redemption and pursuit that is described here, but it was in light of the redemption I have received from Christ and the way that He pursues me time and time again.
 
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Posted by on January 5, 2016 in Book Club, Uncategorized

 

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To Read

I set a goal of reading 20 books this year. Here are the books I have queued up so far:

  1. Redeeming Love–Francine Rivers. I technically started this book in 2015, but I won’t finish until 2016.
  2. Year of Yes–Shonda Rhimes. Because I love all of her shows, and I think she’s a great storyteller.
  3. All the Light We Cannot See–Anthony Doerr. The description of this book doesn’t do it for me, but all of my reading friends read it and gave it wonderful reviews.
  4. The Aeronaut’s Windlass–Jim Butcher. Because I haven’t read any fantasy in a while, and my fantasy-reading friends are excited about this one.

A friend also recently shared this reading challenge:

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I’m pretty stoked about this challenge.

  1. I rarely ever read books the year they come out, so this will be fun.
  2. Not sure what book I will read for this one. I read Annabelle books all the time that fit into this category, but I’m thinking more like a short little book for older people. Thoughts?
  3. Year of Yes fits into this category.
  4. Looking forward to talking to my local librarian to see what is suggested to me!
  5. There are SO MANY books I should have read in school but didn’t. Pretty much if you think I should I have read it, I probably haven’t. Possible considerations for this category include the following: Fahrenheit 451; 1984; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; Night; The Bell Jar; The Catcher in the Rye; The Outsiders; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Note that this is definitely not an exhaustive list.  Just some ideas I’m considering.
  6. Looking forward to ask my spouse & BFF for recommendations for this category.
  7. Lots of options for this one. Several cross listed from #5 for sure.
  8. Looking forward to choosing this one. There’s a lot of overlap between this category and #5. Potential considerations include the following: Beloved’ Go Ask Alice; The Chocolate War; The Color Purple; Bless Me, Ultima; Lord of the Rings.
  9. Go Set a Watchman. I didn’t finish this before it was due back to the library and never requested it again.
  10. Anne of Green Gables. The movie is one of my absolute favorites, but I don’t recall ever actually reading the book. I remember my grandma giving me the boxed set as a girl, and I’m relatively certain I never made it through any of them.
  11. Will have to think on this. My first thought is Moby Dick, but I’m not reading that one. Ha!
  12. Will have to think on this as well. My immediate thoughts are Ender’s Game, The Screwtape Letters, Alice in Wonderland, or any (all?) of the Chronicles of Narnia. Haven’t read them since my first year teaching.
 
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Posted by on January 4, 2016 in Book Club, Uncategorized