Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May Books

Well I did it.  I met all of my goals from last month!  I wanted to read 1 classic, 1 memoir, and 1 non-fiction, so I will start with those.

The House of Mirth

Oh goodness.  This book is by Edith Wharton.  I chose it as my classic pick because Anne Bogel and Preston Yancey talked about it.  I also liked that it was free on kindle (most classics are).

Not a fan.

The story was interesting enough.  Lily lives in high society in New York in the early 1900's.  Her family has left her no money, so it's all about her trying to marry well.  But it's depressing as heck.  And it doesn't even end happy.  I spent the majority of the book stressed out beyond belief.

But, hey, if you like depressing books that stress you out, go for it.

A Homemade Life

This book was my memoir pick, thanks to Anne Bogel and her podcast (What Should I Read Next).

I just ADORED this book.  Seriously, halfway through the book, I put it down, got on ebay, ordered a super cheap copy of the book (I was reading an interlibrary loan copy), then finished the library copy.  But now I have my own.  That's how much I loved it.

It is a memoir that is filled with food and recipes, almost like a secular Bread and Wine.  I love food and I love to read about food, so I was pretty happy.

"Like most people who love to cook, I like the tangible things.  I like the way the knife claps when it meets the cutting board.  I like the haze of sweet air that hovers over a hot cake as it sits, cooling, on the counter.  I like the way a strip of orange peel looks on an empty plate.  But what I like even more are the intangible things: the familiar voices that fall out of the folds of an old cookbook, or the scenes that replay like a film reel across my kitchen wall.  When we fall in love with a certain dish, I think that's what we're often responding to: that something else behind the fork or the spoon, the familiar story that food tells."

More specifically, the book moves through Molly's life, with most of the time spent on college and after college, and also the death of her father.  She is a wonderful writer.  I laughed, I cried, I salivated over yummy dishes.

Trust me, read this book.

Jesus Outside the Lines

Finally, my non-fiction pick.

This book is written by Scott Sauls, a PCA pastor in Nashville, TN.  Almost every time this guy posts on his blog, I love that post.  He is thinking, grappling with, and writing about big issues, and doing so with incredible amounts of wisdom, grace, and humility.

In this book, Sauls works through a lot of issues, both inside and outside of the church.  He is making the case that Jesus didn't come to fit within a party line.  I think anyone could read this book and get a lot from it, and definitely have some mind sets hopefully changed.  

Here are some of my favorite passages:

"Having received such grace, Christians have a compelling reason to be remarkably gracious, inviting, and endearing toward others, including and especially those who disagree with us.  Are we known by what we are for instead of what we are against?  Are we less concerned about defending our rights--for Jesus laid down his rights--and more concerned about joining Jesus in his mission of loving people, places, and things to life?

When the grace of Jesus sinks in, we will be among the least offended and most loving people in the world."

(Can we all just stop and think about that last sentence.  Whoa.)

"Critique when you must.  Human flourishing and redemption depend on it.

Affirm whenever and wherever you can.  As the likeness of God, everyone is magnificent.  As an incomplete work in progress, everyone is magnificently frail."

"Jesus was offensive to smug, judgmental, religious people.  He was a breath of fresh air to broken, nonreligious people.  Can the same things be said about his followers today?"

"For example, during the 1992 presidential elections a friend of mine told me about an awkward moment in his Bible study.  One of the group members expressed excitement because that Sunday, she had seen a bumper sticker promoting the 'other party' in the church's parking lot.  She was excited because, to her, this was an indiction that non-Christians had come to visit.  Imagine the awkwardness when another member of the group chimed in, 'Um...that's my bumper sticker that you saw.'

Can we talk?  If a Zealot and a tax collector share a common faith that transcends opposing political loyalties, then left-leaning and right-leaning believers must do the same.  It is wrong to question someone's faith because they don't vote like you do.  Yes, wrong."

Do you see why I loved this book?  My only negative is that I read the book on kindle.  I really want a paper copy of this book to thumb through over and over.

The Nightingale

This book is a great example of why sharing a kindle account with your family is wonderful.  My mom put it on the kindle months ago and I finally got around to reading it.  

Because I read them in close succession and because they deal with the same time period, I can't help but compare The Nightingale with All the Light We Cannot See.  I would say that All the Light is better written--I heard that it took Doerr years to write, and that shows.  But The Nightingale is still a wonderful book.  I might even say that I enjoyed the story itself a little more than All the Light.

It follows two sisters living in France during WWII (and thus German occupation).  It started out a tad slow, but once it picked up, boy did it pick up!  And I cried at the end, because that's what I do.  

Verdict:  read this!

Station Eleven

I read about this book a couple of months ago on a blog.  I found it at the library, but I didn't even pick it up for several weeks.  I think I  was put off by the idea of reading yet another dystopian novel.  Don't get me wrong, I loved reading The Hunger Games and the Divergent series, but I just couldn't do another book like that.

But then a guest on What Should I Read Next talked about this book and she mentioned that she loved how it was so beautifully written (I'm noticing a theme in what I want out of a book!).  I picked it up the next day.

If you are looking for a dystopian read, this really isn't going to be it.  This book has those elements there.  You are going to be reading about the collapse of modern society because of a worldwide plague/flu.  But, there's going to be no arena, no overtaking some crazy new government.

As the author writes, "Survival is insufficient."  I think this book is about finding beauty and meaning in this collapsed world. 

Again, another must read.  I loved this book.  I will go so far as to say I would reread this book, which is true love in my world.

Cappuccinos, Cupcakes, and a Corpse

Sometimes I just want to read something light and fluffy, usually from the cozy mystery genre.  I love to browse the free kindle books, and this book popped up this month.

I don't want to waste too much time writing about the book.  It was free, it was fluffy, it was fun.  If you want something like that for free, get it.  

The Kitchen House

So many bloggers had said to read this book, so I did.  And I feel sort of eh about it.

I know, that's the opposite of everyone else!  I didn't hate it.  In fact, I thought the story was really interesting.  But the writing was not amazing.  

It's the story of an indentured servant (a little Irish girl, Lavinia) and her interaction with the slaves on a plantation as well as the plantation owner and his family.  

As far as racial themes, there is a lot of meat here, and that was good.  But I think perhaps some other books deal with that better.  If you like historical fiction, however, especially during this time period (after the Revolution, but before the Civil War), you might really enjoy this book.

I will say, I think my feelings about this book were more about my personal preferences than the quality of the book itself, so, if it sounds good to you, you should read it.

So to sum up, 7 books this month, all goals met, and some new favorites found!

Now onto June.

I posted this picture on Instagram.  This is what I'm working through this month (plus an audio book of Maisie Dobbs, a couple Kindle books, and some things I've put a hold on through our library).  4 of those are non-fiction.  My goal is finish 2 non-fictions this month and 8 books total.  I think I can do it!

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