Monday, September 18, 2017

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson

When I lived overseas, I would argue that Grandma's Kitchen, a restaurant downtown that served up American classics (hamburgers, milkshakes, pizza, pie), was "the happiest place on Earth," not Disneyland. Going to Grandma's Kitchen was a tremendous treat, something that I looked forward to weeks in advance (it was about 45 minutes away so I didn't go very often).

Pancakes in Paris is a memoir about how Mr. Carlson opened up an American diner in Paris. Oh, the struggles of a business owner! Kinda stressed me out, but the whole concept is so fun. A fun, easy-peasy read.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham

Heather becomes pregnant, and her boyfriend never wanted to be a dad. But, they come together after their baby is born sick.

A fast-moving read of the journey of their daughter and their relationship.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Reread - Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki

Just noting that I read this again. Loved it and am getting rid of lots of stuff. It's amazing how physical things can carry so much emotional weight. So shedding some emotional stuff as well. Goodbye, shame! :)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal

A whimsical celebration of life.

Loved it, and was saddened when Boomer told me that the author had died earlier this year.

I will go back and re-read her other book, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

A young adult novel told in verse about a family, basketball, and supporting each other through good times and bad. I read this in a couple of hours.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
in manga form!

Teaches the basics of the KonMari method of tidying up in a super-fun way (even Boomer read it and then KonMaried his closet!).

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Janey Sweet tries to lose weight by trying all sorts of exercise regimens.
Meh, just okay.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

Remember: we're trying to catch up so keeping things short and very to the point!

The story of Padma's life so far.
Ugh...I liked her and her decisions less and less as the book went on.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I've got a backlog of books to catch you up on, so I am going to post a little bit more frequently and also keep the posts shorter than usual! I'm gonna try for two sentences. Here we go!

Two unlikely teenagers meet and fall in love at a very inopportune time.

Loved the ending and immediately asked Boomer to read the book (he did and even stayed up late to finish it!).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

16-year-old Will is blind, and starting his first year at a mainstream high school. It doesn't start off so well, but soon, he's made some friends. He even starts liking a girl, Cecily. Then, he's offered the chance to have some life-changing surgeries that may restore his sight. Learning to see is more challenging than Will expected, and he has to confront even more how people relate to each other and judge each other based on appearances.

A sweet book. I stayed up late to finish it!

Thank you to Nannette for recommending this to me!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny

This is a collection of short stories about singleness, dating, marriage, and affairs. It was fun because some characters made repeat appearances throughout the book.

A good book to check out of the library.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Good Widow by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Jacqueline is an elementary school teacher. She thought her marriage was so-so but one day, a police officer shows up to tell her that her husband has died in a car accident in Maui. He was supposed to be in Kansas on a business trip. But that's not it. He was with a lady who also died in the car accident.

Not the most well-written book, but definitely a page-turner.

Another good candidate for some fun summer reading.

Monday, August 21, 2017

According to a Source by Abby Stern

Boomer and I took a few days off and went to a little coastal town to do some extreme relaxing which meant lots of reading (me), playing video games (Boomer), eating and wandering around (both of us).

We also watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix: The Lion in Your Living Room (about house cats) and Two Days in April (about four college football players preparing for the NFL draft). On Youtube, we watched the most fascinating documentary, The Year of the Quarterback - the Brady 6, about the 2000 draft when Tom Brady was drafted #199. Six other quarterbacks were drafted before him! This documentary shows what happened to all of these other six quarterbacks (none of them are still playing).

Anyway, this was one of the books that I read during our trip. It was a perfect blend of fluff and just enough depth.

Ella is an ambitious entertainment journalist working in Hollywood. In order to keep her job, she needs to report as much juicy celebrity gossip as she can. This pressure starts to interfere with her family, friends, and dating relationships. What cost is she willing to pay in order to keep her job?

If you're looking for a summer, beach-type read, consider this one!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

If you're looking for a fun, summer read, this is certainly a good candidate.

Harper and Tabitha are estranged identical twin sisters who are opposites in how they live. One lives on Martha's Vineyard and the other lives on Nantucket. Because of some family circumstances, they end up switching places.

It's like a grown-up version of The Parent Trap that takes place on islands.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

Graham is married to Audra and they have a special needs son, Matthew. Audra talks to everyone and welcomes most everyone into their home (even the doorman when he needs a temporary place to stay). Audra is so friendly that she even befriends Graham's ex-wife, Elspeth.

Quirky, funny, and tender. Don't expect too much plot and closure from this book. The fun of it is in meeting all of the characters that come in and out of Graham and Audra's apartment.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul

Pamela Paul is the Editor of the New York Times Book Review. I wasn't sure what this book would be about. "Bob" stands for Book of Books, and it's a notebook that she's recorded every book that she's read. I thought that it might just be a list of books that she's read and maybe how they've affected her.

But no, she takes us on her journey as a reader. This is really an ode to books and to reading. Yay!

I liked the short chapters. I would read one chapter and then read something else so that each chapter could sit in my mind by itself for awhile until I moved on to the next one.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist by Debra Jaliman, MD

To follow after The Little Book of Skin Care, I checked out Skin Rules as well just to compare what another skin professional says.

This was practical and very easy-to-read. However, I did prefer The Little Book of Skin Care because it didn't suggest using surgery and expensive procedures to fix skin problems.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Little Book of Skincare: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin by Charlotte Cho

I was talking with a friend who has three older sisters. She described how each relationship is different and who she is closest too. It sounded neat, having all of those sisters, but really, I think one sister is enough for me. One older sister who tells me that I don't match, that my socks look funny, that I really don't understand anything about relationships, etc.

Anyway, it was my sister who let me know about this book. It's all about skin care, specificially the Korean approach to skin care. Charlotte Cho describes a ten-step process for caring for your skin. She writes in a clear and slightly whimsical style. I read it in an evening!

This book may or may not change my life. The jury is still out. But, I can tell you that I don't think I was ever really taught how to care for my skin! So I'm trying out the steps outlined in this book, and I will see if it helps.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Celebrating My 1,000th Post!

Yay! Welcome to my 1,000th post!

I started this blog ten years ago. The reason behind it was that I come from a very artsy family. My dad creates stained glass pieces, and now he makes pens! My mom quilts, and my sister is just all-around creative. I read. They actually had a physical product to show for their hobbies. But I didn't have anything tangible to show for my reading (not even a stack of books because most of my books come from the library!). I decided to start this blog to document all of the reading that I do.

I love getting lost in a book. I love learning new things about myself and the world and people. Reading (both fiction and non-fiction) actually helps me in my work as well. Reading still remains the number one way for me to relax and enjoy.

Thank you to you, my fellow readers, for checking out my blog, and sending along recommendations! I hope I've helped you find some good books and steered you away from not-so-good books. :)

I'm including my very first post below just for fun.

April 25, 2007

Welcome to my bookshelf.

I like to read. I wonder if you knew that.

I read paperback books because they don't hurt as much if I roll over them in bed.

I read because it makes me feel more connected to who I am. I like taking in new stories, new information, and new ways of thinking about life. I enjoy having a parallel story sitting in my head while I go about my day. I like reading something that changes how I look at myself and the world around me.

The purpose of this blog is to keep track of the books I have read and my thoughts on them. This blog will not be retroactive. Books described here are books that I have just finished. So welcome to my bookshelf. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Party by Robyn Harding

Jeff and Kim Sanders throw a Sweet Sixteen sleepover party for their daughter, Hannah. There's an accident, and suddenly the Sanders' seemingly perfect life is torn apart.

Suspenseful and fast-paced, but it seems to fizzle out at the end. Still, it made for a quick weekend read.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey

I owned this book for 15+ years and never read it, so I recently gave it away. And then I wanted to read it. I checked it out from the library and read it in three weeks because there was a hold on it, so I had to return it. Funny how a deadline changes things.

If you're interested in determining your path in life (well, as much as you can), working toward goals in all areas of your life, and having significant relationships with others, there's gonna be something for you in this book.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Gracious: A Practical Primer on Charm, Tact, and Unsinkable Strength by Kelly Williams Brown

I loved Kelly Williams Brown's book, Adulting, so I was looking forward to her newest book, Gracious. She writes about dealing with others, yourself, hosting, and being a guest.

Overall, she gives helpful advice about how to handle various situations. However, there were WAY too many cutesy footnotes that started annoying me pretty quickly.

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.