At the start of 2015 I made a resolution to read 1 book each month, which, I think, is the healthiest resolution you can make for yourself.
Each month, I would write down what book I read in my planner, and then write a little review of it here. Reading brings me so much joy- and it gives me something to look forward to at the end of every day, when I climb into bed with my book (and my husband, who also loves to read). Here are my 2015 reviews:
Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist
I read this book on my honeymoon and ugly cried in the bed (I may have also been experiencing some post -party depression at the time). Niequist is a deep well of stories, and I feel like reading her books makes all of life seem more vivid and beautiful. I highly recommend if you like Christian lady writers and good storytelling.
Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
Truth be told, I’m not sure I actually read all of this book… I read about half of it, and it made me feel so sad that I stop caring what happened… and then started caring again about 24-hours later, read the synopsis on Wikipedia, decided it didn’t make sense and read the last 30 pages for closure. EMOTIONAL CLOSURE. It employs the ‘unreliable narrator’ technique that is so artfully done in Lolita, but was just odd… and made me deep down sad in a way I didn’t want to be. However, I don’t watch any crime shows for this very reason, so if you’re into CSI, you’ll probably be into this.
Catching Foxes (finished), John Henderson
This book was was our pre-marital counseling workbook, and it’s fantastic. I was also supposed to finish it before we got married, that is neither here nor there. Always to good to have a refresher on what marriage is supposed to be.
The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
This book is absolutely adorable- it’s a quick read, and I highly recommend as a beach book or last minute airport terminal pick up. They just announced they are making a movie out of it, so get it before they slap some actor’s faces on the cover and make it awkward for everyone.
Paper Towns, John Greene
I felt kind of ‘meh’ about this book, especially in comparison to ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, which I loved. The stakes didn’t seem very high, which made most of it read like melodrama. After finishing it, I felt annoyed with teenagers in general and I think I was a bit of a scrooge about it, walking around talking about ‘the kids these days’ for weeks. Don’t let me deter you though- I can be a bit high and mighty about 16 year olds, and have lots of unfounded opinions about child rearing that bear no basis in reality because I have never reared a child. Pray for my future spawn. They are going to get an earful.
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
By far the 2015 winner for favorite read, and I would probably put it in my top 10 favorite books ever. The prose is absolutely fascinating- the point of view alternates between two protagonists and one secondary character, one the blind daughter of a museum curator, one an orphaned dreamer Nazi, and one a Nazi doctor causing trouble for everyone. It was so beautifully written and the narrative was so compelling, I didn’t want it to end.
This was a crazy month! I didn’t get through a book. I was also going through withdrawals from All the Light We Cannot See and wondering if I would ever enjoy a book so much again so why even bother? No, but seriously- I hosted a 3-day work event at the end of July that involved 400 high school students… I was just trying to survive.
Secrets of a Charmed Life, Susan Meissner
This helped me get over the All the Light We Cannot See valley of despair. Meissner is a pastor’s wife, and though her writing is not overtly Christian, she has a way of imbuing her faith into the prose. Also set in World War II, this is the story of two sisters who are sent away from London during the Blitz. I didn’t know a whole lot about this part of WWII history, despite the fact that I took a simulated tour of the London blitz at the Imperial War Museum a few years back, lead by an extremely bored tour guide who put all of us in a tunnel, turned out the lights, and briefly shined his flash light on people and told them they were dead, or their house just burned down, or something equally morose, while the walls kind of shook. This was, I’m sure, a more accurate account of the event, probably.
For the Love, Jen Hatmaker
I would read Jen Hatmaker’s grocery list if she published it, so obviously I enjoyed For the Love, and kept reading the funny bits out loud to my husband, out of context, while still giggling. I’m sure it was very endearing, It’s the perfect funny, serious, insightful read, and talks a lot about the modern church in a way that was helpful and informative. Please keep writing, Jen.
A Fall of Marigolds, Susan Meissner
I was totally hooked after Secrets of a Charmed Life, and immediately put this book on hold at the library after finishing it. Meissner juxtaposes the story of a woman in present day New York City who lost her husband in 9/11, and a young girl who escapes the Triangle Factory Fire in 1911 and goes on to work as a nurse at Ellis Island. To quote Bridesmaids, “It’s sweet, you’ll like it.”
Isaac’s Storm, Erik Larson
This book is awesome…ly stressful. Awesomely stressful (Bumper, Pitch Perfect, if you didn’t catch the reference). Erik Larson makes you feel like you are reading fiction, but you definitely aren’t. Everything happened. A super interesting read, just like all of Larson’s books have proven to be!
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Mari Kondo
Everyone and their therapist read this book in 2015, and I can’t say enough good things about it. Or point out how many kind of strange off and slightly off kilter things Kondo asks you to do, to the point where I suspect she may be messing with us. Regardless, it really is life changing-before you know it you’ll be tossing your old college t-shirts and thanking your cardigan for keeping you warm all day.
Taking Charge of Your Fertility, Toni Weschler
A must read for anyone who has lady parts and wants to take charge of them! I’m going to go out on a limb and say that both the sex ed and biology classes taught in public schools cover a pretty pretty limited sphere, leaving most women with a large gap in knowledge when it comes to their own body. Reading this book is the start of filling in that gap. Weschler goes so far as to tell you when the least painful time is to get a mammogram- should we really have to live without that knowledge?
The Hormone Cure, Sara Gottfried
Haven’t finished this book, but really loving it so far! It was recommended to me by my sister, who is an esthetician. It is one of the few health books I have read that is written by a gynecologist and yoga instructor (ok, it’s the only health book I’ve read by a gynecologist and yoga instructor), and this combination somehow really works. Now I want to ask my gynecologist how she feels about teaching yoga. Anyway, the information is relevant, valuable, and helpful, especially if you thought hormones were something women only dealt with during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
I blame my steady diet of Harry Potter growing up, but there is something about a dystopian young adult fiction book that grabs me and will not let me go. I didn’t realize until the end that there are 3 possibly 4 books in this series… I’m already halfway through ‘Pretties’ and I’ve got ‘Specials’ in my library hold queue.