We had a lots of talk about rain here in Austin during the month of April. There was even the discussed possibility that we might need to open the floodgates of one of our local dams for the first time in nine years. We ended up not receiving as much rain as was expected but I loved reading during the storms that did come our way!
I did not plan for this to occur, but the month of April contained a decent amount of weighty reads. I wonder if the heaviness of the books that I did complete also led me to abandon the books that I did not finish reading. As I look through this list of books, I am realizing that only one of the books was fun and easy going! I'm glad that I've had this revelation early on in May. I will have to make sure to incorporate some lighter reads.
Whew! This book! I could not put it down, but I definitely had to read it in the day time! This was the most thriller-esque of any Sparks book I have ever read. Those dying roses on the cover are a theme in the book...and right before I started this book, I purchased some roses from the grocery store that barely lasted twenty four hours. (Yes, I cut the stems, put them in fresh water and gave them plant food.) I was in too much of a state of denial to throw them away for a day or two, so they were a fresh reminder of the creepiness of the book I was reading every time I walked by them! (Insert monkey covering eyes emoji.)
I spent the first hundred pages trying to sort out the plot. Sparks doesn't fully let you into his story at first. While this book was really well written, it was definitely not my type. I finished it because I knew that if I didn't I would mull over it and wonder about it for days, maybe longer. For those of you who are wondering, this book is neatly tied up as expected at the end!
The Year of Cozy
I adored this book. Adrianna Adarme had so many wonderful ideas for DIY home decor, gifts, cooking, pets, and so much more. I fell in love with all of her painting crafts. I am not a crafty person in the traditional sense, but the ones she wrote about seemed easy, financially savvy, and adorable. I cannot wait to paint my own door mat, pillow cases, and market bags! I also hope to try her ideas for gifting food to friends at some point in the future. Adrianna blogs over at a cozykitchen.com where she shares recipes, reads, and other fun things!
I had never read anything by Roger Rosenblatt before this book and I was entranced. He carefully wove a story of a family in the wake of a tragedy with a tone of familiarity that left me in the same suspense of the next page as I would be to hear how a friend's day went after a big event. He painted stirring pictures of living with grief and grief lingering in unexpected and surprising ways.
The existing community that Rosenblatt and his wife had that rallied around them during their hardship and the unexpected community that they found after their loss helped me to contemplate the vast ways that community is formed and maintained. It also challenged me to consider what type of member I am in the unofficial communities to which I belong. Am I there for others in their times of need in the small ways that make the biggest differences? Do I speak words of encouragement when I see pain and loss? I hope this book will challenge other readers too!
I refused to read this book for almost two years because it was featured at Starbucks after it's release. Fickle of me, I know. After I seeing many bloggers, friends, and people I respect speak highly of this book, I finally allowed it onto my reading list. I waited for it to arrive from the library for over two months, left it sitting on my bookshelf for two weeks, and then predictably devoured it in two days. I think I expected a deep, sprawling thesis on mercy, our culture, and all the ways we get it wrong. I was pleasantly surprised. Stevenson weaves an intriguing narrative of lives, families, difficulties, and injustice while detailing his legal work on behalf of innocent and underprivileged victims on death row. In a fashion reminiscent of Atticus Finch, he brings light to the injustices and quiet racism that still pervade much of our country. He specifically focuses on our government, legal systems and their corruption as they relate to this type of punishment. This narrative is an astoundingly well written call to awareness on behalf of the oppressed in our country. If you've been sitting on the fence regarding this book, I encourage you to pick it up and give it a go!
The Poisonwood Bible
When I received this book from the library, I was shocked to see that it was first published in 1998. I have seen this book on many recent reading lists and have heard it talked about several times in the last year. In this historical fiction, Kingsolver follows an American missionary family to the Congo and tracks their story as they live there through the 1960's Congo Crisis. The way she follows the family through their experiences, hurt, and healing is a lovely tactic to emphasize the seriousness of the issue that she is illuminating.
As an International Studies major, I noted that this book followed several of the same themes of books, articles, and case studies that I read in my comparative politics and religion classes. Kingsolver did a brilliant job discussing problems that can occur when people bring aid and religion to a society without fully understanding their culture and economy. I am still processing through the weighty fictional storyline of this book. Others may not need as much time to process it as I have, but be forewarned!
You Learn by Living
Ever since watching Princess Diaries and seeing that pivotal scene where Lily is making fun of Mia for all of the changes in her life and Mia gets out of the car almost in tears and Joe looks at Mia and says, "Remember, 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.' " and Mia nods and says "Eleanor Roosevelt said that," I have wondered about Eleanor Roosevelt. What kind of woman was she? What role did she play in our nation's history?
I assumed for most of my life that she must have been a brilliant, outspoken, confident woman who was full of vivacity. I picked up this compilation of some of her writings to find out more about her. My did she surprise me! Roosevelt truly writes from her heart with an effort to encourage others to be the best person that they can be. I loved her tidbits on parenting, using your talents well, and prioritizing tasks. Roosevelt's genuine stories of times where she learned from her mistakes and learned by watching other people are heartwarming and speak highly of her humbleness, observant nature, and gentle personality.
The Reason for Flowers
I wanted to love this book. Really I did. But about 150 pages into the biology of flowers and their pollination process, I found that I was quite done. Maybe some day if I have a garden or really want to know more about flowers, I will pick it up again. I had a difficult time staying awake for the pages that I did read! I keep attempting to read science-y books, but I cannot make them stick. I would greatly appreciate recommendations!
Help Thanks Wow
I read Lamott's introduction and decidedly disagreed with her theology. I appreciated what she was attempting to do in her introduction, but could not get on board with the way she went about attempting to achieve her point and meaning. I read fourty-ish more pages and then decided that I had read enough to get the gist of what she was writing and to determine that I still did not agree. There are times when I will read books with theology that only partially or mostly aligns with mine to gain perspective. However, a coffee table book that is based on a theology I whole heartedly disagree with is simply not worth my time.
Sisters in Law
I've been on a bit of a biography kick lately and I thought that as it continues, I would learn more about the Supreme Court and two of it's female justices. In the first several chapters, readers are introduced to the parallels and differences between O'Connor's and Ginsburg's childhood through young married lives.
After I read that, I decided that I had learned all about these two justices that I really wanted to know. I enjoyed reading about their upbringings and parts of their stories that have shaped who they are today. I realize I put this book down before I learned about their great accomplishments or the cases that made them the most successful. I am fine with that because I feel that I would rather use the time to read and focus on other topics. As blogger Anne Bogel says, "There are no should's in reading!"