Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro

A memoir and meditation on the writer's marriage, past and present.

Thoughtful and emotional.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki

Fumio Sasaki was depressed, stressed out, and unhappy even though he was surrounded by tons of books, camera equipment, and stuff he thought he wanted. He gets rid of most everything and finds contentment. He finds that he has more time, freedom, and less energy devoted toward comparing himself with others.

He includes 55 tips for getting rid of your stuff. He also writes about the benefits of owning less.

Super-easy to read. If you're looking for some motivation to clear some clutter in your house, you might be interested in reading this. I just finished reading this two days ago and I've already given away 30+ things. And that includes my high school yearbooks. Yes, I recycled all four of them. And let me tell you, it felt SO good.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

This is all about how trauma and abuse affects the physical body. And ways that the body and mind can heal.

Super informative, encouraging, hopeful, and well-researched. Plus, the writing style makes it easy to read despite the heavy content.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman

My undergraduate major was Political Science, and for a bunch of my classes, reading The New York Times was recommended reading. It was so cool. As students, we could buy a subscription at a very steep discount. I got a key to the little newspaper locker on campus, and I would bike by each morning and pick it up.

It was in one of my Political Science classes that I was first introduced to Thomas Friedman's writing when we were assigned to read The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

In Thank You for Being Late, Friedman explains how our world and technology developed to where it is right now and how come it's so hard to keep up, along with what's being left behind.

I really liked this book until the last 100 pages where Friedman writes about his hometown in a memoir-like style. It was such an abrupt and disconnected turn and it felt like a different book.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Grave Robber: How Jesus Can Make Your Impossible Possible by Mark Batterson

My church small group went through an abbreviated version of this book in a video series. I read the book as we went through it.

Do you believe in miracles? Batterson focuses on seven miracles found in the book of John and also writes about how miracles can still show up today, if we're open and willing to look for them.

If you're looking for an encouraging book in the Christian life genre, this one is pretty good.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Alice buys a lottery ticket for her friend, Teddy's 18th birthday. What are the chances? But he wins! $140 million at that! As Teddy begins to explore life as a multi-millionaire, we see how he changes, and how his friendship with Alice changes.

I wasn't too happy with a part of the ending. It seemed a bit forced and contrived to me. Well, I guess I am always rooting for the underdog.

Overall, a unique and fast Young Adult read. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Marin stays alone in her college dorm over winter break because she doesn't want to go home to San Francisco and be reminded of the losses that she carries. Her friend, Mabel, flies out to check on her. Over the the course of several days, what happened back at home is slowly revealed.

Short and clever with emotional punch. Family, loss, and who becomes family to us when we don't have any.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Always by Sarah Jio

I can always count on Sarah Jio's books to be fast and un-put-down-able. They can be kinda cheesy and predictable as well, but when I'm just looking for a fast, engaging story, sometimes I can put that all aside.

Kailey is out to dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at a fancy Seattle restaurant. As she's leaving, she gives her leftovers to a homeless man sitting outside who she then recognizes as her ex-boyfriend who had suddenly disappeared years ago.

A great book to curl up with on the couch, or to read by the pool.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

The final book in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series. It's been awhile since I read the last one in this series, so my memory was sorta foggy about what the story was about, but it didn't take long for me to remember Lara Jean and her sisters, Margot and Kitty.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is about Lara Jean's senior year in high school. So prom, college application and acceptances, and whether or not to break up with her high school boyfriend.

This was a walk down memory lane in terms of re-living high school, so although the book was highly readable and moved along quickly, my internal angst level rose as the story went on, hahahha.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner

I read this back in 2012 (you can read my review here). I'm not sure why I read it again, because I didn't really like it the first time. Ah well, sometimes you feel like a nut.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

Lady is separated from her husband, so she hires a nanny to care for her youngest.

Ugh, ugh, ugh. I didn't like any of the characters and none of them really changed or evolved throughout the book. Ugh.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Trajectory: Stories by Richard Russo

I pretty much read anything that Richard Russo writes. This is a collection of four stories. Nothing I'm gonna rave about, but this gave me some solid reading time this week.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

Maybe you've caught on that I love pets and I love reading! So thank you to Grace for recommending Madeline Finn and the Library Dog to me! Grace has a super smart daughter who, even before she was a year old, knew how to properly turn the pages of a book. I think she'll be a reader just like her parents! Also, thanks to Grace for reassuring me that the dog does not die in this book. In her words, there is "no death in the book (except of illiteracy)!"

Madeline Finn doesn't like reading and hates reading out loud. That is, until she meets Bonnie, a big, fluffy white dog at the library who listens to Madeline as she reads. Now, reading isn't so bad with this big, patient, understanding dog at her side!

Monday, June 5, 2017

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider

I just started listing to Tsh's podcast, The Simple Show (thanks to Amy for the recommendation!), and so far I've liked it. Her book was recently published, and she read the Introduction on her podcast. I reserved the book at the library after hearing the Introduction.

Her family travels the world for nine months, and I think this book might inspire you to dream about doing the same!

I liked this book enough for the inspirational quality. However, I think it would have been even more enjoyable had it been longer, more detailed about the practical preparation and logistics of traveling, and if some chapters and paragraphs didn't seem to end so abruptly. I was also curious about reading how the trip changed her heart and her family's sense of connection to each other and to the world.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Safekeeping: Some True Stories From a Life by Abigail Thomas

A woman's memoir written in short essays and told in non-linear fashion.

A little confusing for me, so only a so-so read.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

This is all about negotiating and the emotions involved in negotiating well.

I think this book had good content, but it wasn't executed very well due to its not-so-clear writing and poor organization.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Re Jane by Patricia Park

A re-telling of Jane Eyre except with a Korean-American protagonist in Brooklyn.

Creative and original. Also, in my opinion, better than Jane Eyre. :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


 Some notes I want to share with you, my fellow bookworms:

To be an informed citizen:
I like to keep current on news of the day. I used to watch World News Tonight with David Muir every single evening. Now, I find myself only tuning in once or twice a week. It's just too much. However, I do want to know what's going on, so I've been relying more on The Skimm. I highly recommend subscribing to The Skimm if you're looking for a hip, easy way to read the news each weekday. It's a 5-minute easy, entertaining read. Check it out and give it a try here!

Great for listening to while you're chopping up vegetables:
Thanks to fellow reader, Amy, for recommending the Sorta Awesome podcast to me! It's smart, fun, and informative.

Looking for some reading inspiration?
Summer is almost here! If you're looking for some book ideas, I'm linking to Modern Mrs. Darcy's Summer 2017 Reading Guide.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dangerous Territory: My Misguided Quest to Save the World by Amy Peterson

Amy Peterson spent two years teaching English as a Second Language in Southeast Asia. She was willing and ready to share her Christian faith with her students. What happens over the course of the two years is actually more of a transformation of her heart and her view of God and Christianity.

Beautifully written. This book moves along at a fast clip but there is a depth and richness to it. It's only happened once that I've wanted to read a book again right after I've finished it for the first time (see my recent post on Short), but this one may qualify for a re-read right away! I am certain there are lots of things I missed that I will catch on the second time around. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert by John Gottman and Nan Silver

Boomer and I have been married now for seven+ years, and it seems like this is just around the time when couples who also got married around the same time as us are either 1) having their second (or third) child or 2) getting divorced (with or without kids). It's been new territory to navigate how to still stay friends with the couple now split, especially when we were friends with both people.

Anyway, all of that to say that The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work was a wake-up call to pay attention to my marriage! This book is so rich with content and exercises that I don't even know where to start. I've only started working through some of the exercises and there's a lot of work to be done and lots of things to talk about. I think I'll be referring back to it in the years to come.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott

A very short little book around the theme of mercy and what it looks and feels like. A bit confusing for me though as I don't think mercy was ever really defined. Or it was defined in many different ways.

Sometimes I read Anne Lamott's books at the wrong time and nothing really strikes me. This is an example. Who knows, maybe a few years from now I'll pick it up again and it will speak to me.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act by Alex Prud'homme

Reading My Life in France was one of my literary delights in 2016. So it's super fun to be able to read a sequel so soon after!

The French Chef in America details Julia Child's life after returning home from Europe. She starts filming her cooking show, and she writes even more cookbooks.

I definitely prefer My Life in France over this one. This one gets a bit off subject and meandering in the second half. Still, it's pretty interesting. But if you haven't read My Life in France yet, start there!

Monday, May 8, 2017

The News From the End of the World by Emily Jeanne Miller

This is the story of a Cape Cod family under lots of pressure over the course of four days. Emotionally truthful, and at exactly the right pace.

Yes, this consumed my weekend. :)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions . . . and Created Plenty of Controversy by Leigh Gallagher

Have you stayed in an Airbnb yet? I've stayed in about five Airbnb rooms/houses now, and the experience has been good so far. Except for that one sticky floor when we were in Monterey. Ick. Besides that, the places have been great and super clean, and the hosts have been generous and friendly. Boomer and I check out Airbnb listings now before we think about staying at a hotel.

I was interested in how Airbnb started, so this was the perfect book to answer that question. It was an easy read for me until the last one-third of the book that talks about the legal battles that Airbnb has been involved in, so I kinda skimmed through that. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin

I was in high school when the O.J. trial was going on. I wasn't following it because I was in high school! I do remember the principal making an announcement over the loud speaker once the verdict came in. I think it was during fourth period? Physics class.

Anyway, I didn't know that much about the trial. So when I recently watched the FX series,The People v. O.J. Simpson, I was fascinated. It's an amazing series, so I highly recommend it if you haven't yet seen it.

I immediately checked out this book that the series is based on. It's a highly readable account of the trial and reads like fiction.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hamilton: The Revolution

I listened to this book on audio CD while I was commuting. It made commuting much more fun!

Thanks to our amazing friend, Huy, Boomer and I have tickets to see Hamilton in San Francisco this summer! So we are studying up! I am reading the Ron Chernow book, and we have been listening to the soundtrack at home.

Hamilton: The Revolution explains the backstory of how Hamilton the musical came to be. It's a pretty short listen, only about four hours, but it's very interesting. My only wish is that there were excerpts from the songs when the book is describing certain elements of the songs.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Kadian Journal: A Father's Memoir by Thomas Harding

Kadian was only 14 years old when he was killed in a bicycle accident. This is a remarkable memoir written by his father. Beautifully written, raw, and tender. 

I've been reading more books about grief. Maybe you've noticed? It's coming up on the year marker when a family friend died after so much hope that he was going to live. And it's been about six months since another friend died after a long, long battle with cancer. So yes, loss is on my heart, and reading books about grief helps my heart make more sense of the confusion and sadness.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Julia Marks is short. And her beloved dog, Ramon, just died. Her mom makes Julia audition for the local theater's production of The Wizard of Oz, and Julia is cast as a Munchkin. She has no idea how being a Munchkin and how this summer will change her life.

This was the first time that I've had this reading experience: I read the book and cried at the end. I immediately started re-reading the book and picked up on so many more details the second time around. When I got to the end, I cried again! Same intensity! What a book.

This is a wonderfully heartwarming tale about a girl, her dog, her grief, and how much others can change our lives for the better if we let them in.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

What a treat. I read this right after I read another Newberry Medal book, The Wednesday Wars, and I loved it!

Salamanca Tree Hiddle is on a cross-country trip with her grandparents. They ask her to tell them a story, so she tells them about her friend Phoebe and how Phoebe's mother disappeared. Interwoven into Salamanca's re-telling of Phoebe's story is Salamanca's own story of her mother disappearing.

Super-sweet, with lots of heart and humor. Recommended if you're looking for a well-told, thoughtful book. Oh yah, this is another book that falls under my category of Gentle Reading.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I liked Counting by 7s, so I was happy to read another book by the same author!

At first, I thought that this would be good bedtime reading, but nope, it was way too intense. Also, I'm particularly sensitive about animal books and animals dying in books (see this post) so I had Boomer skim through the book to make sure no animals die.

Appleblossom is one of a litter of possums, and their mom teaches them how to take care of themselves. But one day, Appleblossom accidentally falls down a chimney and into a house full of people. How will she escape? 

Recommended for elementary school kids! Or if you're looking for a sweet, possum family adventure! :) Plus, no possums die!

Monday, April 10, 2017

I'm Still Here by Clelie Avit, translated from French by Lucy Foster

What a fascinating premise: Elsa is in a coma after a mountain climbing accident. Her friends and family have pretty much given up hope that she will recover. They don't know that she can hear and understand every single word they (and her doctors) are saying around her.

Enter Thibault, a man wandering around in the hospital while visiting his brother, who stumbles upon Elsa's room and learns about her condition.

I devoured I'm Still Here in a day. If you're looking for a short, fast, intriguing read, you might want to give this a try.

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti

Cara Nicoletti is a butcher and an avid reader, and in Voracious, she goes through the many books she's read throughout her life and pairs them each with a recipe. She divides the book into Childhood, Adolescence and College Years, and Adulthood.

Reading Voracious was a great walk down memory lane of my own childhood favorite books like The Indian in the Cupboard, Pippi Longstocking, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Strega Nona. So fun!

Thanks to my neighbor, Rebecca, for the recommendation!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Accidental by Ali Smith

Stream of consciousness writing isn't really my thing so I found this to be weird and confusing...So I'm just gonna leave it at that and move on with my life.

Monday, April 3, 2017

How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran is British and writes about all aspects of being a woman. No subject is left untouched! And no words are minced! (Thus, if you have sensitive ears, please stay away. There is a lot of Adult and Mature Content in this book!) I loved her thoughts about the insanity of wearing high heels. And I promptly decided to give away my last pair of high heels. I feel better already!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

The fictional story of a love triangle. The wife, the husband, and the mistress. The wife befriends the mistress but doesn't tell the husband (her lover) that she is also spending time with his wife. She hears about their marriage from both sides and wonders about how it works.

Dark, creepy, twisty with a crazy, crazy ending. (But really, only a so-so read for me.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Young Widower by John W. Evans

John Evans was hiking in Romania with his wife, Katie, when they got separated. When he found her, Katie was being attacked by a brown bear. Evans was a witness to her death.

Evans writes about his relationship with Katie, his guilt about surviving, and his grief that follows.

Tragic and heartbreaking, but beautifully written. This was even more touching to me as one of my friends, unfortunately and very sadly, is a new widower, and I thought about him a lot while I read this book.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

I LOVED this book.

It's about Holling Hoodhood and it's 1967 and the Vietnam War is going on. Holling has to spend Wednesday afternoons with Mrs. Baker because he doesn't have religious instruction at that time like all of his classmates. She makes him read Shakespeare!

There is SOOOOO much heart in this book. The writing is wonderful. Wow, I was not expecting to be so moved by this book.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff

Wolterstorff's 25-year-old son, Eric, dies in a mountain climbing accident in Austria.

These very short essays give a glimpse into the devastating heartache and grief of a father.

Poignant, sad, beautiful.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

I read this a long time ago when it was first published, but re-reading it now was perfect timing.

I love Lamott's writing and her thoughts on life, faith, and what matters in life.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson

The title is more shocking than the book actually is. The book is basically about asking yourself questions about your life, deciding how you want to spend your time, and figuring out how you are going to measure your standard of success. And to not care about the rest.

I think a lot of people could benefit from reading this book and actually thinking about why they are pursuing the things they pursue.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents by David Stabler

A young friend of mine, Graeson, highly recommended this book to me, and so I checked it out! Graeson is a very smart young man with a head full of interesting facts, and I will not be surprised if he becomes president one day. I will vote for him!

As the title says, this book goes into different stories about the presidents when they were kids.

Super interesting, especially the story about Franklin Roosevelt. His mom was very controlling and kept him on a strict and regimented schedule. After asking for a bit more independence, his parents allowed him one day to do whatever he wanted. He left the house and came back at night all dirty. He never told anyone what he did that day.

What makes this book really cool is the great illustrations by Doogie Horner. They are cartoonish and very funny and fitting.

There are two more books in this series, one about Kid Athletes, and another about Kid Artists

Monday, March 6, 2017

We Were Heroes by Walter Dean Myers

The subtitle of this book is The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins: A World War II Soldier, Normandy, France, 1944.

I'm pretty sure that this is fiction. But it's confusing because there's an epilogue reads like Scott Pendleton Collins was an actual guy. Some clarification, please?

Anyway, I read this book before I gave it to one of my friend's sons who is in late elementary school and interested in reading about World War II. I think he'll like it! I did, mostly because it's always good to remember all of the lives lost to fight for freedom. In addition, several years ago, Boomer and I traveled to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery in Normandy and it was a sobering experience. Anyway, just like the title describes, this is a journal of one soldier that starts with the D-Day landing. It describes the horrors of war, what the soldiers of WWII might have faced, and the little things that kept them going (e.g. letters from home, SPAM!). Appropriate for upper elementary school kids too.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

Mrs. Olinski chooses four of her sixth graders for the Academic Bowl team. But she can't quite explain why she chose who she did. She also can't explain why they work together so well.

This is another book that falls under Gentle Reading. It is a sweet and surprisingly deep and thoughtful book about life and the journey we're on. And how important it is to be kind.

Monday, February 27, 2017

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

What would you do if, after your first husband disappears (and is presumed dead) and after several years of grieving, you fall in love again and get engaged? And then you find out that your first husband is actually still alive?

That's the premise of One True Loves. Fascinating, but the main character, Emma Blair, who is deciding between her husband and her new fiance, is so one-dimensional and non-descript that I really didn't care either way.

A fast, easy read nevertheless.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Bossypants is a super-easy fun memoir to read, plus it's laugh-out-loud funny.

Tina Fey writes about her family, her job at the YMCA, her early days of learning improvisation, and her time at Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock.

She also writes about women, body image, and the unrealistic and impossible standards of beauty. Under her "Twelve Tenets of Looking Amazing Forever," she writes: "#12- The Most Important Rule of Beauty: If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important Rule of Beauty. 'Who cares?'" (p. 114). Also, her chapter on what a photo shoot is really like was sooo funny. :)

A must-read if you're a Tina Fey fan!

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg

I have loved everything I've read by Fannie Flagg. I love Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe so much that I even own a copy. :)

And once again, Fannie Flagg has given us a delightful book that spans generations of families that live in Elmwood Springs. Warm and wholesome, but Fannie Flagg does have a wicked sense of humor, and there's always some twisty, dark element that resolves with a nice and unexpected surprise.

If you've never tried a Fannie Flagg book, and are looking for some sweet fun, The Whole Town's Talking is a great place to start!

PS: This also falls under my Gentle Reading Category. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt

I wanted to read this book as a young girl, maybe 4th or 5th grade, but my mom told me that it was "too grown up" for me to read. So I didn't read it and forgot all about it. Until my mom gave me a box of my childhood books to store at my house last week and I found it in the box. I thought, "I think I'm grown up enough to read this now!"

A lovely coming-of-age story about Julie whose mom dies when Julie is only seven years old. Julie goes to live with her aunt in the country.

Full of strong feelings and some uncomfortable teenage feelings.

Monday, February 13, 2017

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Not too long ago, I ate Cheez-Its like crazy and Doritos whenever I could. In those days, I had heard about this book, but I didn't want to read it because I knew it would challenge me about what I ate.

Fast forward to last spring when I had to make some dietary changes for a medical reason. I haven't had a Cheez-It or Dorito since last June. (Is that amazing or sad? Or both?) The way I eat is drastically different from how I used to eat. For example, I used to eat breakfast for dinner a lot (pancakes, French toast). Now, I eat dinner for breakfast! (Salad, veggies, meat, cheese, etc.)

Yes, of course, I miss eating lots of yummy snacks and desserts!! At the same time, I also like the way I eat now. I'm more full, I don't spend lots of energy thinking about how to eat more sugar, I have more energy, and I sleep really well!

So I thought that maybe reading In Defense of Food wouldn't be so offending to me now. And it wasn't. Pollan is an advocate of eating real food, mostly vegetables, and staying far, far away from the processed yummies.

A fairly short and convincing read. But I would recommend eating all of those Cheez-Its and bagels and Doritos before you start reading this book!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Bridge Ladies: A Memoir by Betsy Lerner

Bridge and mother-daughter relationships. A so-so read for me, but I found the ending quite touching.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

I had just checked out a stack of books from the library. I was reading, and Boomer was just sitting there, so I handed him Dark Matter and suggested he give it a try. It's science fiction and he's a fan of science fiction. He started reading and finished the book in two sittings. The next day, after he had finished, I picked it up, and I read it in a day. It was so good, but trippy!

Jason Dessen is heading back home after picking up some ice cream for his family when he's kidnapped. When he wakes up, he's still Jason Dessen, but not in the same life that he was in before. Who is he? Where is he? How does he find his way back to his life and family?

Highly recommended, but be prepared for a trip!