Read · Think

Fourth Quarter Reads and Reviews

BLARG!!! It’s late January and I’m still getting my December act together. Guys, even the tubs of Christmas decorations are still in the guest room and my Christmas cards are still up.

Anywho, here goes.

Non-fiction

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I picked up* Talking as Fast as I Can last summer, basically the second I finished binging Gilmore Girls (which because I try not to be a negligent mom, took over a year). I was skeptical (about the show) for at least a season. The acting and the writing bugged me. However, eventually, Lorelei and Rory got into my head and my heart. So I also really loved this book. I enjoyed reading about Lauren’s journey from childhood to the present- how she achieved her acting and writing goals (I also have mad respect that she actually has degrees in both areas). If you are a Parenthood or GG fan, this is a good read. If you aren’t, find another actor and read their autobiography…or better yet, watch those shows and THEN read this book.

*my friend Carly loaned me her pristine copy which I of course spilled coffee on. PSA-I will always spill coffee on your books, loan at your own risk!

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My friend John BOUGHT me this book! Like recommended it, bought it, and dropped it off all within the span of 12 hours. He said it was a fast read. But he’s much smarter than me, so I read a little bit every day for about 2 months. Here’s who I’d recommend this book to (besides myself): people bored with fluffy sugar-coated Christianity, people sick of scripture taken out of context and put forth as truth, people tired of striving after some level of perfection they won’t/can’t reach, people who like thought-provoking reads, people who want to know God more deeply. This book was kind of like reading a C.S. Lewis book. You won’t want to skim it, you’ll want to soak it up. Whether the truths Rankin presents are new or old to you, you’ll want to sit with them, mark them up, think about them, come back to them.  I loved this book and I’ll even revisit it.

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Speaking of Lewis, I finally read Screwtape Letters. Gosh, this book, like Union with Christ, I will read again! It IS a quick read if you aren’t careful, but I suggest reading just one chapter daily.  “This religious satire, that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to ‘Our Father Below.'”  All the thumbs up.

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My friends, Kelly and Lee Anne insisted that I would giggle through Sparkly Green Earrings. And since I pretty regularly giggle with them, I decided to take their word for it (although LeVar Burton would tell me that I didn’t have to). So here’s what’s up, I read this entire book on a plane ride to New England (in fairness it was a LONG plane ride and luckily for me, I sat by some people who didn’t feel like chatting and this is a 200 page book). I enjoyed Shankle’s humorous essays on life and motherhood and marriage. This book is a great light-hearted nap time or long plane ride kind of book!

Fiction

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I read The Giver in 1994 when it came out, I read it again in 2014 when the movie came out (and never watched the movie because I was pregnant with twins, a lot of things didn’t happen that year). I knew that Lowry had written three companion books and after my friend Carrie INSISTED that I read them over the weekend (um. who has time to read 3 books over the weekend???), I checked them all out from the library and read them over the next 3 weeks.  Oh my goodness, I know I say this about almost every thing I read, but I loved these books. (Maybe this is an indication of how awesome and smart my friends and family are, or maybe I just don’t read anything unless the reviews are stellar, because I DO NOT have time to read junk). In short, The Giver Quartet ties multiple characters and multiple dystopian communities together. Themes of redemption, reconciliation, and sacrifice are present throughout.  Carrie was right, read them over the weekend or over the month, whatever.

Sidenote, I dreamed the other night that I met Lowry and I said, “Your books are life!” And my voice cracked and my eyes watered, so deep was my love for her in that dream moment. I would probalby geek out this same way in real life. Oh subconscious, how nerdy you know I am!

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Several years ago I read a book called Everything I Never Told You. As soon as I finished it, I googled the author because I wanted to read something else by her. To my dismay, it was her first book! To say Celeste Ng is one of the best new writers in America right now, would be an understatement. Her second book, Little Fires Everywhere, which came out in September (thank goodness!!!!), had me turning pages late into the night. I devoured this book. There is so much to like about Ng’s writing and books. She tackles race issues with power but also grace and gentleness. She coddles her plot line, letting it build slowly but also like a current that moves the reader along very naturally (a lost art in storytelling these days). Her characters are flawed but yet she has compassion for all of them, thereby helping the reader to love them without judgment. Her writing is downright poetic. I will read everything that this girl writes. And I will read it the month it is released. She makes me want to read more and write more. And that, friends, is the mark of a brilliant storyteller.

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Ok, technically I finished the last book in The Chaos Walking trilogy this morning, but it’s just silly to review the books separately. Both sisters and my friend, Caroline, suggested these books to me. My sisters also suggested I read Twilight, but that was a decade again, so they’ve grown up a bit and earned back my trust (mostly). Dystopian, sci fi, outer space, animals that talk-Chaos Walking has a lot going on. This reading endeavor took me two months, and I’ll probably be thinking about it for 2 more months. The characters, plot development, and themes in these books would be an English teacher’s DREAM. So here’s the deal. Read these books, but don’t compare them to other series. I read Hunger Games MUCH faster and adored Harry Potter way more, and was more moved by the characters in the Giver Quartet.  I wouldn’t say this is my favorite series on Earth, but after reading 4 books by Ness this year, I want more from him. He puts words on the paper in a way that is starkly creative and profound. There is no one quite like him. He makes me ponder, and I like that. (Also Bonus, they’re making a movie).

There you go! Happy Reading! As always, I’d love some of your recommendations!

 

 

 

 

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