I Don’t Even Like Feet: Easter Traditions with Kids

Yesterday was Maundy Thursday and even though my husband had to work that night, I wanted to find a way to observe some Maundy Thursday traditions with my children.

Let me tell you, THEY WERE DELIGHTED AND ENTHRALLED. I’m not even being sarcastic. My kids were on the edge of their seats, as if we had never discussed Easter before. So, before you pass over (Passover?! See how clever I am?) this idea thinking your kids would never sit still or listen calmly, you may just give your kids a little credit. I’ve found my four are interested in anything that I’m passionate about. They want to be passionate, too!

I had a four step plan:

1.) Start a conversation about Maundy Thursday over dinner. Explain that it was the day Jesus ate his last meal with his disciples (including the one who would betray him) and where he says to serve one another.

2.) Read the story of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples (from my iPhone because who can see that tiny print in a regular Bible?).

3.) Wash the kids’ feet like Jesus washed the disciples’ feet.

4.) Take communion with the kids (bread and grape juice, although, the kids kept calling it wine).

You must must MUST do this with your kids tonight, or next Easter season. It was a sweet and special memory for me and I believe for them, too.

I stopped reading the story before Jesus goes to trial and they were begging me to keep reading. They wanted to hear more about Jesus’ bravery in the midst of his heavy-hearted sadness. I didn’t want to quit either, but I’m saving the rest of the story for tonight, Good Friday.

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After I left them with a cliff-hanger, I pulled out an old bucket and washed each of their feet. I explained to them that someone who was as powerful and important as Jesus didn’t have to serve anyone. Normally, HE would be the one being served. But because Jesus loves us with his whole heart, he wants to serve us, even if it means touching our nasty feet. Let it be known, that I HATE FEET. ALL FEET. I have never liked a foot washing at a church, or a camp, or a retreat, or in my own bathtub. Some people know that I refer to feet as “manks” because of my revulsion toward them. So, doing this step with my kids was a great sacrifice that hopefully gets me an extra crown in Heaven.

 

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Our final step of the evening was to observe communion. Jesus broke bread and passed it around to his twelve followers to remind them of his broken body on the cross. They each drank wine to remind them that Jesus bled to save us. So we used what we had available (a fifteen cent loaf of bread from the almost expired section of the bakery and some cran-grape juice) and we prayed together, asked for forgiveness from each other and God (mine inlcuded asking the kids to forgive me for yelling at them), and then we ate the bread and drank the juice. They were insistent upon calling the juice wine “because that’s what it says in the Bible, Mom!” Fine. Wine.

When we were finished, they didn’t want to be done. They wanted to do more “things about God” so I happily passed out crayons and let them draw until they were bored and ready to hit the hay.

These traditions stir something inside of my heart (even footwashing, I guess) because I know that they have been observed by generations and generations of my fellow believers. Feeling connected to people who have come thousands of years before me is like looking down a long, ancient hallway. Knowing that Jesus washed feet, broke bread, drank wine, and prayed, just as my family did last night, connects us to him in a beautiful way.

Tonight, we’ll finish the story of Jesus’ death on the cross and sit with some sadness as we remember how horribly heartbroken his followers and family were feeling. The kids won’t be solemn for long, because we’re having hot cross buns and that will cause a lot of whooping and shouting and wildness. Sugar is very exciting to the six and under crowd.

Please, do this or some of this with your family. It’s so worth the time. Even if you have older kids and you haven’t done anything like this before, start the tradition now! Now is the time for spiritual conversations, not once they’ve left home.

 

 

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Allison’s Five Star Books of 2017

I’m no book expert, but I did read 100 books in 2017. Many have started calling me the Centibook, and by many I mean no one expect myself to myself while I’m examining my eyebrows in the mirror. 

If you have been keeping up with the blogs I wrote every fifteen books or so, then you have a feel for my taste in books. If our tastes are similar, you might pick up a few of these books. If we are complete opposites, you should probably grab at least one book from the list to make you a more well-rounded person. 

This is a difficult list for me because I hate making any kind of definite decision and because I read many books that I adored but only gave 4 stars. I would absolutely recommend those books, but for the sake of not having a lengthy (and potentially boring list), I’ve sorted out only books I was so enamored with that I gave them the full 5 stars. 

I’m also going to exclude some classics from this list that I rated as 5 stars but WHO WOULDN’T? Most people have read these books anyway. So, here are my honorable mentions for Watership Down, Anne of Green Gables, The Little Princess, Heidi, and Little Women. These are all 5 star books, no doubt. 


I know this book was written as daily tip/daily devotion/chapter a day sort of read, but I read it all in about a day and a half. I love to learn and wish I had the actual hard copy to scan through when I need grammar help and reminders. I forget everything and often need help with my writing. This book will help me for many years to come, I’m sure!

It’s not a fast-paced, on-the-edge-of-your-seat style suspense book. It’s more like slowly untangling a nasty knot. I liked it much more than I imagined I would. I’m always a little wary of popular reads and something that might fall into a chick-lit category, but I’m happy I gave this one a chance. This book was long but finished within 2 days.


I had to make sure to read 100 pages a night in order to stay on track with my reading challenge. This book should count as four toward my total. It took me eight days to finish but I was completely enthralled in the story. I was NOT expecting to love it but I did. The characters are so true and real. The moment I think I’ve found a character to hate, Tolstoy brings out their other qualities. I find a character to love and Tolstoy shows me their ugliness. I never lost interest or forced myself through. You should take the time and read this book. And this translation! Who knew reading 19th century Russian literature could be so captivating?


I understand that for a woman who attends a Southern Baptist church to be reading an “After the Fall Rob Bell” book might seem scandalous. But I really love Rob Bell and his writing. He is certainly not for everyone with his writing style and his sometimes questionable yet thought-provoking ideas. I enjoyed “What We Talk About When We Talk Abut God.” There are parts that ruffle me because of what I’ve grown up learning but I truly love to hear other people’s perspectives and thoughts on God and scripture. How do we reconcile science and faith? Is God an ancient idea that is holding us back? Is God for us? Where is God? What about the sometimes scary, Old Testament God? Those are a few examples of topics he addresses in the book. Rob, to me, speaks clearly and easily. A two day read that will stick with me for much longer.


After a few recommendations to read this book, I went ahead and picked it up from the library. I wasn’t looking forward to reading this one. The blurb on the back almost killed it for me. A blind girl? Nazis? An orphan boy? Sounds like a ploy to be emotional and cheesy. Then I read that Anthony Doerr took ten years to write the book and I decided it deserved some credit for hard research at least. I was invested from page one. I was never bored, I was always anticipating the next chapter, and I was not disappointed in the end. Read it!


I first discovered Trevor Noah on an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” I liked him and his story immediately. Trevor was kind, smart, and his story was endearing (and I could tell Jerry felt the same). I knew Noah had taken over for Jon Stewart, but we don’t have cable so we don’t watch much traditional T.V. I simply knew I liked him because of one short, internet segment. I wasn’t wrong. This book addresses racial biases, racial privileges, family, poverty, crime, police, domestic abuse, South African apartheid, and normal coming of age stories. Wit, humor, and charm carry the book through heavy topics and makes you wish you could be friends with Trevor Noah.

I am madly in love with Jen Hatmaker so this review is biased. Of Mess and Moxie was a fun, easy, encouraging, and inspiring read that I read in one day. Honesty and humor are the key ingredients in a Jen Hatmaker book and those are my two favorite qualities in any person’s writing. All the women in your life will benefit from this book, no matter their season in life. The laughing and crying you do while reading will be good for your health.


My friend Corie was about to make me eat this book if I didn’t hurry up and read it. She was right. I loved it. I have a big heart for grumpy people (not mean, not rude, just grumpy). It’s heartwarming and I enjoyed the way the author spun all the characters and their stories so charmingly. I would add a trigger warning for anyone who isn’t up for reading a book that discusses suicide quite often.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve seen this book everywhere, knew there was a movie, and didn’t have a clue what the story was about or that it was true. When I read the foreword, I was instantly drawn into the events, the science, the family, the sadness, and the struggle. The book is based on thousands of interviews with family members, doctors, researchers, lawyers, ethicists, and journalists. The author also uses photos, documents, scientific research, historical research, and diaries. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves science and documentary style non-fiction.

A Walk in the Woods is the second Bill Bryson book I’ve read this year. Wait. THIRD! Oops. No matter, I loved it. It was my favorite by far. I loved listening to Mr. Bryson recount stories of hiking the Appalachian Trail with his friend. He tossed in hundreds of facts and history for good measure, and the account of his trip was funny and heartfelt. Funny AND educational? Perfect. This definitely won’t be the last book of his that I read.

Ready Player One is set in 2044 and things on Earth are rough. Which is why most people use a virtual reality program called OASIS to escape. The story involves a contest to find a hidden “Easter Egg” within the OASIS to win the power to control everything in the virtual reality. It’s suspenseful, stressful, and fun. If you are a 1980’s fanatic, you’ll love the four jillion ’80’s references (particularly video games). I do regret reading Otherworld before Ready Player One. They are so similar that I’m sure I will confuse the two when I try to remember them in the future.

A charming, enchanting, beautiful fairytale. I’m considering stealing this copy from the library. The story is adorable and mysterious, just like a good fairytale. The illustrations are lovely and I’d like to hang them on my wall. I can’t wait to read this one with my kids when they are older. Expect a fairytale and you will love Snow & Rose.

Tom Hamblin tells story after story after story of taking Bibles to the Middle East. He writes warmly, enthusiastically, and wisely. I’m so happy I took the time to read this book. It is encouraging and completely unbelievable. If you are a believer in Jesus, you will be amazed.

I am so happy I purchased this book instead of borrowing. I loved it and I look forward to referring back to it in the years to come. I feel challenged to see God’s holiness in the everyday, the boring and mundane, the regular and the tedious. Liturgy of the Ordinary is a beautiful read.

The title and subtitle made me want to skip this book. It sounded cliche and sort of made me feel gaggy. Self-help rhetoric? No thanks. I was wrong. Every person in America should read this book. I loved it so much. I swim in a sea of everything Brene writes about. It was a perfect fit for me. I borrowed it from the library, but this is a book that needs to be in my home, tattered and highlighted.

I could not get through the first part of the book. I struggled and struggled but I kept pushing because my husband had recommended Beartown and he gave it a thumbs up. It’s just that I really don’t like hockey. And the book went on and on at the beginning about hockey. I mean, ON and ON. I didn’t realize all the clever character development I was accidentally absorbing while suffering through. Suddenly, the book changes and it is heartbreaking and way too real. I appreciate Fredrick Backman much more after Beartown. 

I would like to include trigger warnings that will be spoilers:

Rape is the overall storyline and it could be a very difficult read for anyone who has been raped or had a loved one who has been raped. I had no idea this was the plot and would have appreciated a heads up.

LOVED. Loved. Loved. Perhaps a little mystical versus my beliefs, but I believe truth is truth. I am inspired to dig deep into my creativity with reckless abandon. I’ll need to own this book and re-read from time to time.

I took a quiz (don’t roll your eyes at me!) and it told me that I would love this book. I also had a friend recommend it so I took it as a sign that I needed to read this book ASAP. I was initially discouraged to see it’s length (I’m trying to read 100 books here, people) but I was enveloped at chapter one. I loved reading this story of a family leaving Georgia for Africa. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, and enraging.

Everyone should read this book. I did NOT see my love for this book coming when it ended up on my bookshelf. I thought it would be purely informational, standard help the poor non-fiction. It is heartbreaking and the author tells meaningful stories of broken people who are working toward home. I would recommend this book to anyone who is human.

I guess I should consider myself a fan of the true crime genre. I wanted to read “American Fire” much faster than I was able (please note 4 children and summertime) because I found it so compelling. The book didn’t have the best reviews, but I loved the way Monica Hesse wove facts, storytelling, and nuance together to create a page turner about love, sadness, and sixty-seven fires.

I was feeling guilty about reading yet another fiction book (I may as well watch television!) but “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” is a winner and the perfect summer read. When I finished the book, I noticed the author’s blurb said she had written for Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. No wonder I enjoyed her work.

I LOVED this book. 

It hits all the points of things that I like in a book. 

True life events, wonderful storytelling, emotions running the gamut, and the kind of God stories that sometimes I think we forget about in America. 

The book is written by a woman who moves to the Philippines to translate the Bible for the Balangao people. The stories she tells range from adorable to harrowing.

I took a while to warm up to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Because I live for book recommendations and rarely do any research (I don’t even read blurbs beforehand) I had no idea this book is composed entirely of letters between characters. I had to get accustomed to the style and learn to keep up with the characters by their letters. I was also unaware TGLPPPS is about World War II. The approach and storytelling were unique enough to not feel stale or repetitive and I found myself loving the book. Also, surprisingly humorous.

Technically a children’s book but it has so much depth and great storytelling that anyone can read it and feel intrigued and encouraged. I would have loved this book in grade school and I can’t wait to read it with my kids in a few more years (however, by then it may be required reading in schools. I believe it might happen!). A story about a boy named August (like my son) who has beyond severe facial deformities and the people who love him. I hope to be like August’s fictional family in my real life family.

Jeannette Walls’ account of her childhood is told beautifully. It was full of childlike magic and naïveté in the beginning and I was actually a little charmed as she told her life story. As her understanding grew and her experiences worsened, everything turned sour and horrifying. It’s devastating to read.

I can’t imagine anything that could have made me love this book more. I love J.D.’s storytelling, I love the honesty, I love the heartbreaking memories he shares about growing up in a poor (sometimes abusive) family. It was real and inspiring. I grew up in a small Missouri town and these stories and people are familiar. He’s truthful and beautifully optimistic.


Completely raw. Glennon hides NOTHING in her book and that is the most appealing writing style I can think of. I found myself somewhere on every single page. I didn’t imagine I would agree with all of her thoughts/beliefs/philosophies, and I didn’t, but that did not affect the impact of her honest words.
Today begins Day One of 2018’s Reading Challenege. I’ve dropped my total to 50 books so I can have a life. Who is joining me?

The Year of a Hundred Books

Alright. Quit being so dramatic. You can unclasp your chest and remove your jaw from the floor. No one is more surprised than I am, so knock it off.

SOMEHOW, I’ve managed to read one-hundred books this year.

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I don’t mean to brag, but I am amazing. Just kidding. Here is the secret to reaching my goal:

I read at night after the kids went to bed. Do not try to read while your six-year-old, four-year-old, three-year-old, and baby are awake or you will end up re-reading the same chapter sixteen times. It’s not worth it.

I watched almost zero television and lost a lot of sleep.

It wasn’t glamorous, but I can’t lie and say that it’s a challenge with a high degree of difficulty. Forcing myself to sit on a couch, late into the wee morning hours, snack on some sugary treat, and read mostly delightful books can’t really be regarded as anything heroic. I’m proud, but I didn’t climb Everest or eat kale or anything.

Friends inspired me, gave me fun and important book recommendations, and cheered me on as I started to wilt with a few months left to go. Thank you so much for all the help and encouragement. Thank you, Annie, for the idea in the first place. I didn’t even know Goodreads existed and now I can’t live without it.

Here is a list of my final fifteen books. I will post again before the year is up and list my top reads of 2017.

86.) History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

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I grabbed this book on a whim. No prior knowledge, no recommendations, just a blurb on the cover that said, “Gorgeous… These are haunted pages.” Curiosity piqued.
History of Wolves is haunting. It’s a bit confusing to read with the many plot lines and time changes, but I managed to keep up and enjoyed it.
I would describe it as a lonely coming of age story.
Reader beware! Themes include pedophilia, the death of a child, cults, Christian Science, and other sexual content.

87.) Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

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Waking Gods is the second book in the Themis Files series. True science fiction, this book is fast-paced, mysterious, and hard to put down. I would have finished faster, but I was reading a digital copy and I have a hard time reading a book that needs to be charged or plugged in.
I can’t wait to read the third book in this series. I have questions that NEED ANSWERING.

88.) All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

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After reading “The Hate U Give”, a friend recommended that I read “All American Boys” because they have similar content. Even though “The Hate U Give” seems to have had a much larger launch and reception, I preferred “All American Boys” when I think of it as a book that may be read in schools one day. A little cleaner (a few f-bombs) and the content is good. The authors don’t shy away from some nuance, realizing these situations are never clear or simple.

89.) Otherworld by Jason Segel

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Although I’m sure Jason Segel is tired of hearing the comparisons between his new book and Westworld, they do have similarities. Good news for me: I love Westworld.
Otherworld is a virtual reality that started out as a gaming program but has turned into a sinister place with strange creatures, realms, and the real possibility of death. I will certainly read the next installment in the series.

90.) Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

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Anna Kendrick recounts funny, awkward, and endearing stories of her days becoming Anna Kendrick. I think I’ve waited until this late in the year to read Scrappy Little Nobody because I knew I’d be jealous. I was right. I’m like, “These hilarious stories should be me being on Broadway!” I still haven’t heard of many productions where singing poorly not on purpose is a good thing. Anyway, fun book to read. I like Anna.

91.) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Ready Player One is set in 2044 and things on Earth are rough. Which is why most people use a virtual reality program called OASIS to escape. The story involves a contest to find a hidden “Easter Egg” within the OASIS to win the power to control everything in the virtual reality and the entire OASIS industry. It’s suspenseful, stressful, and fun. If you are a 1980’s fanatic, you’ll love the four jillion ’80’s references (particularly video games). I do regret reading Otherworld before Ready Player One. They are so similar that I’m sure I will confuse the two when I try to remember them in the future.

92.) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel 

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Post-apocalyptic fiction is like a bad habit of mine. I picked up Station Eleven on a whim and I’m glad I did. Even though the content was dark (um, the end of the world), it was a suspenseful and fun read. Maybe a dash of hope thrown in for good measure.

93.) Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott

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The writing is so beautiful it’s easy to look past a few things I wasn’t in love with. Anne writes honestly and truthfully and it gives me ALL the feels. She draws her thoughts and wonderings from many different spiritual groups, but I love to hear her thoughts in regard to Jesus. Even if there are points I disagree with Anne, her writing is so raw I can’t help but feel connected.

94.) The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

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The Stranger in the Woods was an interesting read with a side of heartbreak. A twenty-year-old man chooses to go into the woods one day and never come back. People called him one of the last true isolated men, a true hermit. The book was full of interesting tidbits and facts, but I would have loved to get more information fleshed out. I gave it a four-star rating and would recommend it if you enjoy documentary-style storytelling.

95.) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

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A Walk in the Woods is the second Bill Bryson book I’ve read this year. Wait. THIRD! Oops. No matter, I loved it. It was my favorite by far. I loved listening to Mr. Bryson recount stories of hiking the Appalachian Trail with his friend. He tossed in hundreds of facts and history for good measure, and the account of his trip was funny and heartfelt. Funny AND educational? Perfect. This definitely won’t be the last book of his that I read.

96.) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

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I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve seen this book everywhere, knew there was a movie, and didn’t have a clue what the story was about or that it was true. When I read the foreword, I was instantly drawn into the events, the science, the family, the sadness, and the struggle. The book is based on thousands of interviews with family members, doctors, researchers, lawyers, ethicists, and journalists. The author also uses photos, documents, scientific research, historical research, and diaries. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves science and documentary style non-fiction.

97.) Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

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Lily and the Octopus is about a man and his aging dachshund. It’s a sweet story with some funny lines and references, but, overall, it was strange and silly but not in a way that I enjoy. If you have a pet that is near and dear to you, it’s possible you might like this story more than I.

98.) Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

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I was surprised to enjoy this fiction novel with a holiday setting. Seven Days of Us would probably make a wonderful Christmas movie with some A-list actors.
A family is cautiously quarantined together after their daughter returns from Liberia, treating a deadly virus. Obviously, loads of drama ensues surrounding dysfunctional family dynamics, health issues, marriage quirks and problems, etc. I’d say it was dramatic but overall, a heartfelt story.

99.) Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

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In Furiously Happy, Jenny Lawson tells us about her struggles with numerous mental health issues. She tells us she has depression, severe anxiety, dermotillamania, trichomania, OCD, and avoidant personality disorder to name a few. However, just like the subtitle explains, it’s a funny book about horrible things. Jenny tells funny stories (with loads of salty language), rehashes arguments and discussions with her husband, and shares numerous embarrassing moments. I didn’t love this book because so much wasn’t relatable to my life (counselors, friends, and my husband might disagree), but I still enjoyed her honesty, her strength, and her humor.

100.) The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

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I did not realize The Greatest Gift was a daily Advent reading book. I checked it out from my library as an ebook, and you can’t flip through an ebook to see what you’re getting into ahead of time. I wouldn’t have picked it had I known, and now I’m glad I didn’t know.
Ann Voskamp writes so beautifully and meaningfully I can’t help but roll my eyes. I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to heartfelt words that an author carefully chooses to display beauty and profound truths. I’m like, “Come on. You don’t speak this way in real life!” But Ann’s writing pushed past my walls and I’m hoping to read this every Advent season from here on out.

 

After an entire year of kicking myself in the rear to get approximately two books a week read (and actually comprehended!), I’ve decided to set my goal closer to fifty books in 2018. I’d like to do other things besides exclusively reading books, like, breathe. Check back in soon to see my final blog of 2017 where I’ll list my top reads for the year.

Let’s do a 2018 book challenge together, you guys. Who’s with me?!

Stayin’ Alive at 85

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I am barely pulling off this “100 Books in 2017” goal. I mean, if I actually make it to 100, it’ll be by the literal skin of my barely brushed teeth. I’m reading and reading but I’m still three books behind. AND THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE!! I’m seriously doubting my chances but I’m going to read as fast as my mom-brain will allow.

Fine. Confession time.

I’m behind because I’ve been pretty lazy. Ever since my son received Super Mario Brothers Wii for his birthday, I’ve been otherwise engaged. I didn’t just play for fun, I played for blood. I beat all eight worlds, killed Bowser, and saved Princess Peach. It won’t count toward my book goal, but I’m counting it as a major life accomplishment.

Also, Stranger Things happened. What could I do? Let everyone else crush hard on beautiful, perfect Steve while I sit on my couch reading library books? I have my pride.

Here are the last 25 books I’ve completed. I’m sorry it’s so many. I’ve clearly had my nose to the grindstone.

61.) Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

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Sleeping Giants is hard NOT to read in one sitting. Especially for someone who loves all things similar to her 90’s X-Files obsession. If this is a series, I’ll read the others. Spoiler: it is and I did.

62.) Baby-led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett 3386101.jpg

Baby-Led Weaning is so practical and all you say the whole time is, “Of course!” I wish I had read this book with my first three children instead of making four million pounds of purées. Read this book if you have babies under one-year-old (or plan to).

63.) I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi

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People are over the moon about this book! Luvvie Ajayi is beloved on the Internet so I decided to check her out. I was drawn into Part II: “Culture” and loved hearing a black woman’s thoughts on race, racism, and privilege. I had a harder time engaging in the other parts of the book but they were still funny and interesting.

64.) A Girl’s Book of Verse by Mary Gould Davis

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Poems, poems, poems! I’m sorry to admit that I’m not knowledgeable about most poetry or poets. I did enjoy reading these and there were many classic pieces that were fun to read. This book included Yeats, Dickinson, Whitman, Tennyson, Shakespeare, Blake, Keats, Kipling, and Lord Byron to name a few. I did discover Walter De La Mare, who maybe I should be ashamed not to know. I’ve already confessed my shortcomings. Forgive me, Deidre.

65.) The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

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It took me entirely too long to finish this book about a young girl who hasn’t eaten in months but is still surviving. I did like it, but it was a slow burn. I had to keep forcing myself to pick it back up. Not until the last hundred pages or so did I breeze right through because the content became much more intriguing. I think it would make a great movie.

66.) Beartown by Fredrik Backman

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** This review contains spoilers** I could not get through the first part of the book. I struggled and struggled but I kept pushing because my husband had recommended Beartown and he gave it a thumbs up. It’s just that I really don’t like hockey. And the book went on and on at the beginning about hockey. I mean, ON and ON. I didn’t realize all the clever character development I was accidentally absorbing while suffering through.
Suddenly, the book changes and it is heartbreaking and way too real. I appreciate Fredrick Backman much more after Beartown.
I would like to include trigger warnings that will be spoilers:
Rape is the overall storyline and it could be a very difficult read for anyone who has been raped or had a loved one who has been raped. I had no idea this was the plot and would have appreciated a heads up.

67.) Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

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The title and subtitle made me want to skip this book. It sounded cliche and sort of made me feel gaggy. Self-help rhetoric? No thanks.
I was wrong. Every person in America should read this book. I loved it so much. I swim in a sea of everything Brene writes about. It was a perfect fit for me. I borrowed it from the library, but this is a book that needs to be in my home, tattered and highlighted.

68.) Reading People by Anne Bogel

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I’m a nut about personality and behavioral typings. I love to see why people act in particular ways and I can’t wait until my kids are old enough so I can assess them, too. Anne’s book was a compilation of many different assessments and theories. I liked being able to read through them all in one place and quickly, too. Since I am obsessed with personality tests, there wasn’t much new information for me, but I still enjoyed reading it and picking up new tidbits here and there.

69.) Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

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Creepy. Weird. Vague. Intensely interesting from the beginning. Annihilation is the first of a trilogy and I plan on reading all three books. It was so easy to read and I was curious until the end. The book could have been a hundred pages longer to explain more, give more story background and detail. Maybe it’s more enjoyable because there isn’t excessive character development and storylines, but I could have handled more information. All in all, if you like strange science-fiction, you should read Annihilation.

70.) Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

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I am so happy I purchased this book instead of borrowing. I loved it and I look forward to referring back to it in the years to come. I feel challenged to see God’s holiness in the everyday, the boring and mundane, the regular and the tedious. Liturgy of the Ordinary is a beautiful read.

71.) Under Their Very Eyes: The Astonishing Life of Tom Hamblin, Bible Courier to Arab Nations by Deborah Meroff

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Tom Hamblin tells story after story after story of taking Bibles to the Middle East. He writes warmly, enthusiastically, and wisely. I’m so happy I took the time to read this book. It is encouraging and completely unbelievable. If you are a believer in Jesus, you will be seriously astonished.

72.) Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

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I’m going to go out on a limb and say this account made me strangely sad! Why? Because what are the odds I will ever see Hamilton?! And then, I wouldn’t see it with a Lin-Manuel performance. IT’S NOT FAIR! Leave me alone right now. I need to deal with my emotions. (PS- if you like Hamilton, then you will love this look behind the scenes.)

73.) Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

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Nightmares! caught my eye when I noticed Jason Segel was the author. I needed to know what kind of book Jason Segel would/could write. It was a fun adventure and my friends and I would have loved this book as kids. He has released other books I’d be willing to try out, as well.

74.) Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that can Radically Change your Family by Paul David Tripp

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A book I should certainly own and keep handy. Maybe it’s a little repetitive, but the repetition seems necessary to help open my eyes to how I can parent differently/better. It’s more like a flashlight than a book. It illuminates my dark parenting mistakes and allows me to see and change them. Helpful and worth it.

75.) Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

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The second installment of The Southern Reach trilogy was interesting and chilling, but much too long. I loved reading the first book, Annihilation, because of its rapid pace and edge-of-your-seat mystery. Book two was not as fun. It’s a slow burn and I kept having to restart to push through. My advice to anyone reading Authority: finish it in a day or two, otherwise, you’ll end up taking forever to finish. It is still worthwhile, it just can’t stand up next to its predecessor.

76.) White Lightning by Minton Sparks

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A quick and simple read. I appreciated the overall message of the book (truth is a powerful elixir) but missed out on a lot of character development and weight to the storyline. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.

77.) Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer

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Weird, weird, weird, weird, creepy, intense, weird. Acceptance is the final book in the Southern Reach trilogy and I admit I’m a little sad I’m finished. There were probably many things I missed because I wasn’t smart enough to understand, but I liked reading it and I loved the weirdness.

78.) Breathe Mama Breathe by Shonda Moralis

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Can I please be Shonda Moralis? She’s a therapist, yoga, hiking, biking, early-rising, mindfulness guru. I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to practicing most of her mindfulness techniques. Sometimes the chapters were repetitive, but I think that just makes it easier to refer back to a certain chapter and have the information stand alone without the entire book. Maybe the term mindfulness makes you feel strange, but her approach can easily incorporate Christians’ spiritual practices. Helpful. Simple. Hopefully doable.

79.) The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

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I called all the plot twists and heard the words “hand” and “job” too many times. I wouldn’t recommend.

80.) The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey

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The Wisdom of Sundays includes snippets from Oprah’s conversations with spiritual leaders, CEO’s, nuns, athletes, writers, designers, psychologists, etc. I loved reading others’ opinions on life, spirituality, gratitude, brokenness, connection. Many people I would never have heard from if it weren’t for this book and everyone had a small piece of truth I could resonate with. My husband made fun of me because I said Oprah had too much to say. “Um? Isn’t this Oprah’s book?”

81.) The Children of Willesden Lane. Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen

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A heart wrenching Holocaust memoir. If you enjoy reading true accounts (with some filler for narrative added) then you will undoubtedly love this beautiful and sad book.

82.) Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

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People did not give this book glowing reviews, but I liked it! Embarrassingly, I felt I had a lot in common with the main character, Eleanor. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of her, hence my embarrassment. But I related so much to her that’s probably why I enjoyed the book more than others. Quick and easy read.

83.) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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An inside look at the personal side of all the news stories we hear of black people being shot by police officers. I almost felt like an intruder reading this book, but the author makes the story accessible to all races. Strong language and some sexual material but the content overall is good. The Hate U Give is a good book to read if you’re looking for a deeper understanding of Black Lives Matter, riots, protests, etc.

84.) Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

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A charming, enchanting, beautiful fairytale. I’m considering stealing this copy from the library. The story is adorable and mysterious, just like a good fairytale. The illustrations are lovely and I’d like to hang them on my wall. I can’t wait to read this one with my kids when they are older. Expect a fairytale and you will love Snow & Rose.

85.) Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

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I feel certain knowing that Tom Hanks wrote these stories added to their charm exponentially. Mr. Hanks loves to write about everyday things and truly out of the ordinary things all at once. He also talks about a beautiful woman in every story (except maybe one). I gather he appreciates lovely women and maybe thinks a story can’t survive without one! I would describe most stories as sweet and clever.

Alright, I have 15 books to read before 2018. What do you suggest that are fun, quick, educational, weird, or inspirational? I have to make it to 100! Save me!

 

 

Hello, Sixty!

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I promise you.  Reading sixty books has been like trying to scratch my butt with a feather.

I whined to my husband, Jody, the other night, “Next year, I am NOT setting a goal to read  one-hundred books.  My resolution will include binge watching Netflix series.” I haven’t watched television all year. I miss television’s mindless comfort. What would I give to watch some Kimmy Schmidt, some Parenthood, some Walking Dead? I’d give up my butt-scratching feather, that’s for sure.

I am proud of myself. Sixty books? I know, right? Who would have imagined this was possible? Some books have been meh. Some have been good. And some have been so amazing, life changing, incredible, that I can’t stop thinking about them.

Here are the links to the last forty-five:

First Fifteen

Dirty Thirty

Ferty-Ferv: Or, Whoa! I’ve Read 45 Books 

 

Here’s the last fifteen I’ve read:

46.) And the Word Came with Power by Joanne Shetler

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I LOVED this book. It hits all the points of things that I like in a book. True life events, wonderful storytelling, emotions running the gamut, and the kind of God stories that sometimes I think we forget about in America. The book is written by a woman who moves to the Philippines to translate the Bible for the Balangao people. The stories she tells range from adorable to harrowing.

47.) At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

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“At Home in the World” is my first experience reading anything by Tsh Oxenreider. I love non-fiction books where the author takes on huge goals and because this one involved a family with young children, I was sold. I loved reading about her adventures in each country and her non-stop family togetherness. There’s a bit of the grumpy side to my personality that didn’t love her writing style, but I should probably shove Negative Nancy in the corner and move on.

48.) Come Home Laughing: A Novel for Adult Children of Divorce by Tanya Lyons

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A thoughtful family member recommended this book to me because he knew divorce had been a difficult part of my life growing up. This book is about adult children of divorce and the impact their parents’ divorce has on their lives as adults. I believe this book could be helpful and possibly life changing for some adult children of divorce, but I had a hard time finding myself in the book.

49.) Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

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I was feeling guilty about reading yet another fiction book (I may as well watch television!) but “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” is a winner and the perfect summer read. When I finished the book, I noticed the author’s blurb said she had written for Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. No wonder I enjoyed her work.

50.) Have a Happy Family by Friday: How to Improve Communication, Respect, and Teamwork in 5 Days by Dr. Kevin Leman

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A gift from a family member that I was excited to read. Overall, nothing blew me out of the water but it was full of nice reminders. Unfortunately for me, Dr. Lehman has geared this book toward families with pre-teens and teenagers but some tactics are still appropriate for my young ones. He may have other books that are targeted to my needs that I can look into. It was such an easy read that I could pick up another and try it out.

51.) The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

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I’m always getting The Swiss Family Robinson and Treasure Island confused. I blame old school Disney. I meant to read Treasure Island but I’m never sure what’s going on anymore and so I mistakenly read TSFR. I liked reading this book but it did make me feel terribly lazy and unskilled in life. This shipwrecked family knows everything there is to know about every plant and animal. They can survive anywhere! The father is 1812s version of Google. Be sure to read this book in the context of the century it was written.
SIDE NOTE-The family’s last name is not Robinson.

52.) American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse

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I guess I should consider myself a fan of the true crime genre. I wanted to read “American Fire” much faster than I was able (please note 4 children and summertime) because I found it so compelling. The book didn’t have the best reviews, but I loved the way Monica Hesse wove facts, storytelling, and nuance together to create a page turner about love, sadness, and sixty-seven fires.

53.) Welcome Homeless by Alan Graham

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Everyone should read this book.

I did NOT see my love for this book coming when it ended up on my bookshelf. I thought it would be purely informational; standard how-to-help-the-poor non-fiction. It is heartbreaking and the author tells meaningful stories of broken people who are working toward home. I would recommend this book to anyone who is human.

54.) Your Legacy: The Greatest Gift by James C. Dobson

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Dr. Dobson spends more time reminding us of the importance of leaving a strong spiritual legacy for our kids than he does offering tips and suggestions. Overall, I found two chapters to be helpful and the rest to be ok. I’ve read books on this subject that I prefer to this one but I’m always thankful for anything that reminds me that my kids watch my every move and to be praying non-stop for my family.

55.) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

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I took a quiz (don’t roll your eyes at me!) and it told me that I would love this book. I also had a friend recommend it so I took it as a sign that I needed to read this book ASAP. I was initially discouraged to see its length (I’m trying to read 100 books here, people) but I was enveloped at chapter one. I loved reading this story of a family leaving Georgia for Africa. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, and enraging.

56.) A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

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SO MUCH INFORMATION! Thankfully, Bill Bryson makes learning about mountains and mountains of the history of the Earth quite enjoyable, simple, and interesting. If you are into the scientific side of history, I’d be surprised if you didn’t love this book.

57.) Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

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LOVED. Loved. Loved. Perhaps a little mystical versus my beliefs, but truth is truth. I couldn’t believe how much I was encouraged as a creative person.  I was inspired to dig deep into my creativity with reckless abandon. I’ll need to own this book and re-read from time to time.

58.) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Teenage Allison is reading every Rainbow Rowell book she can get her hands on after reading Eleanor and Park. This is just the book my best-friend and I would have read by the pool and bawled our eyes out while drinking Pepsi.
Adult Allison can probably live without reading more. I enjoyed it, but it was meant for my younger self who still had feelings. Jk. But seriously.

59.) James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

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Since I’ve been traveling so much, I needed some chapter books to read with the kids that could count for me as well. Initially, I chose some Judy Blume books but decided the content was a tad lofty for my five and under crew. Plus, Judy loves to let her characters say mean words to their parents and the parents are all patient about it. Yuck!
This book was wonderful and magical and my kids loved it.

60.) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is written from a 15 year old boy’s perspective. Christopher has autism and his way of thinking about the world is insightful and sharp. The story is an example of everyday life and everyday relationships becoming fascinating and interesting simply based on whose eyes you are looking through. I think most people would enjoy this story.

 

Goodreads tells me I’m three books behind on my goal for the year, so not dreadfully lacking. I’m currently reading Sleeping Giants and I’m so hooked I could barely stop to write this blog post. I’m getting a serious X-Files vibe and anyone who knows me knows there is no one I love more than Mulder and Scully.

Do you have any recommendations for me? Any books I need to add to my Must-Read list? Leave me a comment!

Ferty-Ferv: Or, Whoa! I’ve Read 45 Books 


I probably shouldn’t be too braggy about reading 45 books because that means I’m basically ten books behind on my 100 book reading goal. TEN BEHIND?! How did this happen? I blame lots of traveling and looking at social media instead of reading. My brain is so tired by the end of the day (which is my only time to read) that I only have the faculties for aimless scrolling. I can skim the Internet for five hours after the kids go to bed OR I could read for two minutes before falling asleep with my Peanut Butter M&M encrusted chin resting on my chest. Hashtag glamorous. 

Despite being a bit behind, I’m happy that I’ve read so many books this year. Here’s a look at the last 15 I’ve completed. 
31.) Where the Light Gets In by Kimberly Williams-Paisley


Where the Light Gets In is a daughter’s account of her mother being diagnosed with PPA (in the Alzheimer’s family of brain degenerative diseases). I decided to read this book for a few reasons. 1.) I have a grandma who is currently living with/struggling with dementia. 2.) I have beloved family members who are caring for her in the most loving and helpful ways they know possible. 3.) I love Kimberly Williams-Paisley from her roles in Father of the Bride and on television. The content wasn’t disappointing and I found myself tearing up quite a bit in the final chapters. Overall, it’s a simple read. Not my favorite writing but the content is helpful. Who cares about writing styles when you are listening to someone’s painful and hopeful story?

32.) Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell


I’m certain I read this book in the fourth grade, but when I friend brought me a stack of books for my kids, I couldn’t resist reading it again after 23 years. I promised myself I’d read it in one sitting and I did! It holds up from 1960 when it was published and from 1994 when I first read it. I love that it’s written with little drama or emotion. Just the story of the lonely, abandoned girl. The book is based on a true account which I always enjoy.

33.) Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 


I asked a trusted nerd friend for some book recommendations. She suggested many and included, “Unless of course you haven’t for some reason read Anne of Green Gables in which case you should.” I replied with, “I got all my Anne of GG knowledge from the Disney Channel as a child.” She told me I needed to immediately read “Anne” and I think she was ashamed of me. What? The ’90s were full of good Disney book-to-tv series. I checked it out and I adored it. It’s a sweet story from over 100 years ago but truly relatable and endearing.

34.) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett


A Little Princess is a sweet classic. The story is old and therefore it’s theme has been repeated many times over the years (since it was published in 1905). Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the overall story, the characters, and the wholesome plot. I can’t wait to read it with my kids.

35.) Heidi by Johanna Spyri


I felt familiar with the story of Heidi but I had never actually read the book. The story was so sweet and adorable that all I did was smile while I read it. I told my husband that I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the horrible things to happen, but it was such an encouraging little book that nothing horrendous ever occurred. I cannot wait to read this to my kids when they are old enough. It’s full of encouragement and truth about God. It’s perfect!

36.) Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane


I don’t read a lot of books in the thriller/suspense genre, but I gave this one a chance because Dennis Lehane also wrote books that turned out to be intriguing movies (Shutter Island, Mystic River). It wasn’t the greatest, but it did keep me guessing. I hate to say that it would probably make a better movie.

37.) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

 

I had a child’s version of “Little Women” growing up. It was shorter (but still felt very big and grown up to me). I’m not sure that I actually read the story, but I looked at the black and white pictures and gained some knowledge of the characters and plot. So, I didn’t go into this without some idea of what would happen. 

I was irritated by the length but only because I’m trying to read 100 books this year. Otherwise, “Little Women” is such a sweet and wholesome read, I can’t wait to share it with my daughters. I can’t help but be amazed that a fiction book almost 150 years old can still stand today.

38.) The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls


Jeannette Walls’ account of her childhood is told beautifully. It was full of childlike magic and naïveté in the beginning and I was actually a little charmed as she told her life story. As her understanding grew and her experiences worsened, everything turned sour and horrifying. It’s devastating to read.

39.) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


I blame a beach vacation and access to live television for the length of time it took me to read “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I am generally a fan of a dystopian story, but this one didn’t have me on the edge of my seat or send chills down my spine. Maybe the main character bothered me with her overall lack of inspiration and courage. Maybe it was the sex. Maybe the loose ends. I can’t put my finger on the problem, but this book wasn’t my cup of tea. The writing style took a while to get acquainted with but eventually that was no problem. I really wouldn’t recommend “The Handmaid’s Tale” despite the fact that everyone else and their mom seems to love it. Maybe Hulu got it right.

40.) Wonder by R.J. Palacio


Technically a children’s book but it has so much depth and great storytelling that anyone can read it and feel intrigued and encouraged. I would have loved this book in grade school and I can’t wait to read it with my kids in a few more years (however, by then it may be required reading in schools. I believe it might happen!). A story about a boy named August (like my son) who has beyond severe facial deformities and the people who love him. I hope to be like August’s fictional family in my real life family.

41.) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows


I took a while to warm up to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Because I live for book recommendations and rarely do any research (I don’t even read blurbs beforehand) I had no idea this book is composed entirely of letters between characters. I had to get accustomed to the style and learn to keep up with the characters by their letters. I was also unaware TGLPPPS is about World War II. The approach and storytelling were unique enough to not feel stale or repetitive and I found myself loving the book. Also, surprisingly humorous.

42.) A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg

 

A Crack in Creation seems like a work of Science Fiction, but genetic editing is already happening in all fields of biology. I am a biology lover, so I happily devoured this book. I’m also a person with average intelligence, so I had to re-read and re-process many paragraphs before I finished. The first half of the book is so intense it reads more like a text book. The second half is events based and includes a lot of big picture, philosophical questions. The second half was clearly more fun to read, but no skipping ahead. The first half is essential to understanding the second. Are we on the cusp of eradicating cancer and creating unicorns? According to this book, yes.

44.) Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee


A strange book and nothing like what I expected. “Go Set a Watchman” is Harper Lee’s follow up for To Kill a Mockingbird. The book had a lot of buzz and excitement so I grabbed it expecting to fall in love. I was mostly disappointed by the book and by some fictional heroes.

45.) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


Traveling so much recently has put me in a reading bind. I chose some Roald Dahl books that the kids would enjoy but that I could count toward my challenge. I needed something a bit more substantial than The Poky Little Puppy. The kids and I love them so much, we may have to read more! You can’t beat a story with chocolate and Oompa Loompas.

There you have it. How are you doing with meeting your goals? Are you on track to finish your books for the year or are you sadly in the same boat with me?  Keep me posted on your progress and favorite books!

Dirty Thirty

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Despite the title, this will not be a dirty post unless you consider reading books from a public library to be a bit on the unsanitary side. I’m simply a big fan of rhyming and this was good timing because I finished thirty books and it was sublime-ing.  I can make up words if I want. I’ve read thirty books and it’s still April.

I posted my first fifteen reviews here: The First Fifteen .  It wasn’t a difficult task to push through those books. My newborn was still awake at all hours of the night and I had a lot of Beginner’s Gusto. The second fifteen books have been trickier, although I’m still on schedule to finish one-hundred books by the end of the year.

This second batch of fifteen has proven more difficult because my sweet Frances has started sleeping through the night. I also listened to an entire podcast series (S*Town), rolled about $158 in pennies and dimes for a few evenings, and I kept checking social media because I have a Pavlovian response to those little red notifications.  I keep unintentionally choosing lengthy books and that has also led to a slower progression toward my goal (I’m looking at you, Anna Karenina).

Check out my list of books and reviews. Maybe you’ll add a few to your list for the year.

16.) Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

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This science-fiction book would have been a wild read back in the 1960’s when it was written. Stranger in a Strange Land is about a man who grew up on Mars and returns to Earth more Martian than human. It’s an exciting book, particularly in the beginning. While the second half takes a strange turn, it’s still an interesting read. It’s almost laughable the things that Heinlein discusses when he wrote the book in the ’60’s are the same things we deal with in 2017. We don’t change as much as we think.

17.) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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I had to make sure to read 100 pages a night in order to stay on track with my reading challenge. This book should count as four toward my total. It took me eight days to finish but I was completely enthralled in the story. I was NOT expecting to love it but I did. The characters are so true and real. The moment I think I’ve found a character to hate, Tolstoy brings out their other qualities. I find a character to love and Tolstoy shows me their ugliness. I never lost interest or forced myself through. You should take the time and read this book. And this translation! Who knew reading 19th century Russian literature could be so captivating?

18.) In the Great Green Room by Amy Gary

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I have always been in love with Margaret Wise Brown and the illustrators who brought her books to life. I saw this biography at the bookstore and knew I had to read all about one of my literary idols. I learned a lot about Margaret’s life, what inspired her writing style and subjects, and her relationships. But, to me, the book wasn’t fun to read. I kept being bothered by all the inferences (that are often made when you write a biography posthumously). I felt like I was reading a high school research paper. Otherwise, I am happy to have learned more about Margaret’s life because I adore her.

19.) What We Talk about When We Talk about God by Rob Bell

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I understand that for a woman who attends a Southern Baptist church to be reading an After-the-Fall-Rob-Bell book might seem scandalous. But I really love Rob Bell and his writing. He is certainly not for everyone with his writing style and his sometimes questionable yet thought-provoking ideas. I enjoyed What We Talk About When We Talk Abut God. There are parts that ruffle me because of what I’ve grown up learning but I truly love to hear other people’s perspectives and thoughts on God and scripture. How do we reconcile science and faith? Is God an ancient idea that is holding us back? Is God for us? Where is God? What about the sometimes scary, Old Testament God? Those are a few examples of topics he addresses in the book. Rob, to me, speaks clearly and easily. A two day read that will stick with me for much longer.

20.) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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After a few recommendations to read this book, I went ahead and picked it up from the library. I wasn’t looking forward to reading this one. The blurb on the back almost killed it for me. A blind girl? Nazis? An orphan boy? Sounds like a ploy to be emotional and cheesy. Then I read that Anthony Doerr took ten years to write the book and I decided it deserved some credit for hard research at least. I was invested from page one. I was never bored, I was always anticipating the next chapter, and I was not disappointed in the ending. Read it!

21.) Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

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The concept of slavery being legal in the present day United States and the efforts made by members of the Underground Airlines to free slaves was is an intriguing plot. An alternate reality where slaves are legal in four U.S. states piqued my curiosity. I was anxious to read this thriller and see what parallels the author would make to our country today. Unfortunately, I had to drudge through the first hundred pages to become interested. The content is gripping but I think the writing is what caused me to struggle. I imagine this book would be better received as a movie.

22.) Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

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I first discovered Trevor Noah on an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” I liked him and his story immediately. Trevor was kind, smart, and his story was endearing (and I could tell Jerry felt the same). I knew Noah had taken over for Jon Stewart, but we don’t have cable so we don’t watch much traditional T.V. I simply knew I liked him because of one short, Internet segment. I wasn’t wrong. This book addresses racial biases, racial privileges, family, poverty, crime, police, domestic abuse, South African apartheid, and normal coming of age stories. Wit, humor, and charm carry the book through heavy topics and made me wish I could be friends with Trevor Noah.

23.) Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

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I am madly in love with Jen Hatmaker so this review is biased.  Of Mess and Moxie was a fun, easy, encouraging, and inspiring read that I read in one day.  Honesty and humor are the key ingredients in a Jen Hatmaker book and those are my two favorite qualities in any person’s writing. All the women in your life will benefit from this book, no matter their season in life. The laughing and crying you do while reading will be good for your health.

24.) A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

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My friend Corie was about to make me eat this book if I didn’t hurry up and read it. She was right. I loved it. I have a big heart for grumpy people (not mean, not rude, just grumpy). It’s heartwarming and I enjoyed the way the author spun all the characters and their stories so charmingly. I would add a trigger warning for anyone who isn’t up for reading a book that discusses suicide quite often.

25.) Family Worship by Donald S. Whitney

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Family Worship is a short guidebook on instituting a time each day to worship with your family. Married couples, families, single people, and empty nesters can all gain wisdom. It’s a practical guide on why and how to worship as a family. Thankfully, it’s short since it’s a bit boring, but it is a good reminder.

26.) Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

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Completely raw. Glennon hides NOTHING in her book and that is the most appealing writing style I can think of. I found myself somewhere on every single page. I didn’t imagine I would agree with all of her thoughts/beliefs/philosophies, and I didn’t, but that did not affect the impact of her honest words.

27.) Love Lives Here by Maria Goff

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A sweet book by Sweet Maria. Some extremely personal stories are told and many glimpses into her charmed life as a Goff. Her marriage and children are definitely #familygoals. I rated this book with 3 stars because I’m just not a fan of every story being a simile or metaphor and a lot of tweetable phrases one after another.
Overall, it was full of good reminders and challenges and I wouldn’t feel strange recommending anyone to read this book.

28.) The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

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A sale in the Kindle Store spurred me to purchase this book for $1.99. Apparently, this is not the Bill Bryson book to begin with if you’ve never read a Bill Bryson book. It doesn’t have spectacular reviews like his other work, but I still found it to be interesting, funny, and educational. Win, win, win! If I’m honest, I did struggle to push through. I have no basis of reference for these locations he discusses, so it took some stick-with-it-ness to finish but I’m happy I did. I look forward to reading his other better received books.

29.) The Nix by Nathan Hill

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I always love books with approximately 548 characters to keep up with. I’m a fan of a big story where everyone intersects and connects and this is exactly that kind of book. I didn’t enjoy all parts, some preached and drug along, but overall an interesting read.

30.) Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

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I can’t imagine anything that could have made me love this book more. I love J.D.’s storytelling, I love the honesty, I love the heartbreaking memories he shares about growing up in a poor (sometimes abusive) family. It was real and inspiring. I grew up in a small Missouri town and these stories and people are familiar. He’s truthful and beautifully optimistic.

Now you’re caught up on my fascinating life for the past two months. Jody asked me if I missed watching television (I’ve been reading and he’s been running so we haven’t watched any Netflix shows). I don’t miss watching television but I do miss the “togetherness” of doing something like watching a show together. Does anyone have any thoughts or remedies about this problem?

What books have you read so far this year that I cannot miss?