Monday, January 26, 2015

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

If you are looking for a short and funny read, Dear Committee Members is for you.

It's written by a fictional disgruntled English professor at Payne University, and it's written all in the form of letters of recommendation. He writes these letters of recommendations for past and present students but he also uses the letters to voice his dissatisfaction with his job, the university, his ex-wife, and the inequities of university life.

Very funny and clever! I recommended it to a professor friend of mine.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

As Soon As I Fell by Kay Bruner

I was consumed by this book over the last couple of days.

Bruner grew up in a missionary family and met her husband, Andy, in college. He had also grown up in a missionary family, so it just seemed like the "right" thing to be missionaries together. They worked on a Bible translation project for ten years on the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. Well, Andy worked on the translation project, and Kay struggled to keep things running at home with all of the cooking, laundry, and homeschooling for their four children.

Kay grew up wanting to be perfect and accepted, so she did what others expected of her. Self-care was non-existent and this lifestyle of never saying "No" and doing whatever was expected of her was not sustainable. At the same time, Andy was also stressed  out and sought relief in an internet porn addiction. After ten years, they were disconnected from each other and from themselves.

This is their story of healing and learning to listen to themselves and each other. An amazing journey, and a really profound and emotionally aware book.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

I read Wolitzer's The Interestings back in December, and checked out The Ten-Year Nap when I returned The Interestings.

I was out on a walk with Boomer when I suddenly felt a leap of joy in my heart because I had just found a new author that I loved AND there are seven+ more books by her that I have not yet read! I stopped on the sidewalk and put my hand over my heart and told Boomer the reason for my joy. How lucky!! To add to that happiness, Boomer cooked us bacon and eggs for breakfast!

The Ten-Year Nap follows four New York friends who are all well-educated and who have, for various reasons, decided to stop working and be stay-at-home moms for the last decade. Once their kids are old enough to not really need them at home all of the time, they are left wondering who they are and what they should do now.

I love how accurately Wolitzer describes feelings, especially feelings of ennui. Some of the scenes she writes are so real that I can feel the tension, the wanting to cringe, the wanting to look away because of embarrassment.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My 2015 Reading Goals

The last couple of years have allowed me to read for fun more than any other time in my life. Well, in elementary school, I would crawl into my parents' bed with a stack of books and a box of crackers and read for hours on end so I guess I got a lot of reading done then (sorry for all of the cracker crumbs, parents!). So okay, elementary school aside, I've been reading way more in my 30s than I ever did in my 20s. I didn't have time to read for fun during my undergraduate years. Then there were a couple of years after college that I spent living overseas where I spent a lot of my free time just bicycling around trying to procure enough groceries to feed myself for the next week. When I had down time, I didn't have the capacity to concentrate on a book. Graduate school didn't allow for much time to read for fun. Now, with no more school or homework, there is time to read. That's one great thing about working - no homework!

All of that to say that I haven't really set any reading goals for myself over the last several years because I was just enjoying reading for fun again. However, this year, I am ready for a bit more structure in addition to just reading a ton of whatever I want. So I am going to do Modern Mrs. Darcy's Reading Challenge. It looks like fun. Take a look and see if you're interested too!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went is the sequel to If I Stay (which was recently turned into a movie, but I haven't seen it as I usually don't watch film adaptations of books). This is actually one of the best sequels I've read, and I think it was even better than the first one (but you have to read the first one to understand this second one).

Where She Went picks up three years after the end of If I Stay, and is written from the boyfriend's perspective. Love, loss, grief, and starting over are all themes found in the story, along with what we do with the relationships that meant so much to us but we just can't continue in them anymore.

If you're in a Young Adult kind of mood, I recommend that you check these out. I would check them both out at the same time so you have Where She Went ready to read once you're done with If I Stay.

Oh, and if you read If I Stay, you might want to have Mozart's Requiem (K. 626) on hand as well. It's mentioned in the book, and I had to put it on.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Here's another book that I read during Christmas break. My neighbor, Rebecca, recommended The Age of Miracles to me, and I'm glad she did! It's about Julia, an adolescent girl living in California with her family, and the day that they find out that the world is beginning to slow down. Gradually, the days and nights each grow longer and longer. So now Julia has to deal with gravity being affected, changes in the environment, AND puberty. As if puberty wasn't enough to deal with!

The Age of Miracles is written in such simple prose, and yet there is depth and emotion. A very neat book. Thanks for the recommendation, Rebecca!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Happy new year! I hope that you are looking forward to what 2015 has in store for you, and that you have some good books waiting for you as well!

The last couple of weeks were unexpectedly light on the work front, and Boomer didn't have any vacation days left, so that left me with plenty of time to do whatever! So, I read.

So onto what I read...
Yes, sometimes I read John Grisham. A John Grisham book usually proves to be good vacation reading for me. It's fast and draws me in. In the last several years, he's written other books that aren't focused on the legal profession, and those were surprisingly okay. I read Grisham's latest, Gray Mountain, over Christmas break, and although slow in some parts, it did turn out to be satisfying vacation reading.

The story is about Samantha who starts her legal career with a big Wall Street law firm, and then the recession hits. She is given a year of furlough in which she can volunteer with a small non-profit and then possibly return to her firm to see if there's still a job for her. She ends up in Brady, Virginia in Appalachia working for a very small legal aid clinic. It's a rough transition from NYC to small-town Virginia, but she starts to warm up to the people and their hardships.