Monday, December 3, 2018

What I Read: November

This was a month of mostly regular books. I only made it through one ebook and both my audiobooks took me quite a while to get through. I had some really awesome regular books I read with only a couple I wouldn't recommend to someone else.
Elise reading Harry Potter to Tesla.
  • The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson- I saw Khaled Hosseini, the author of Kite Runner, had a new book coming out called Sea Prayer. I put it on hold at the library and was so excited to pick it up when it came in. I was shocked when I picked it up and it was a children's book. I read it and it was absolutely beautiful, but left me needing a new book to read. So I headed over to the stacks without my book list which was on my phone. I'd left it at home when I walked to the library specifically to pick up my hold since it had come in that day. I checked out the different displays and didn't find anything I was interested in so I looked for Persuasion but it was the only Jane Austen book not in. Then I checked for any Jhumpa Lahiri books but they only had ones I'd already read so I headed to see if there were any Joshilyn Jackson books. I was really hoping for The Almost Sisters because my mom had read it recently and said it was good. That one wasn't in so I grabbed this one and it was just as amazing as Gods in Alabama. It was one of those that I just didn't want to put down. We were all out of commission with a stomach bug on a Saturday so I spent most of the day laying around finishing the book. It was so good I almost didn't mind being sick! I like how Jackson writes, switching back and forth from the present and the past and keeping something big a secret throughout the story leaving you wondering.
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison- I bought this book at the library book sale over Labor Day weekend. It was a book I've wanted to read for a long time. There were parts of the story I was really drawn into but then parts that seemed odd and disjointed and not really a part of the total narrative. It wasn't quite what I expected even though I didn't really know what it was about. I was surprised that I didn't really like it. I didn't dislike it either, I just finished it feeling a bit indifferent. Now I want to read Beloved to see if I like her writing and just not this book so much.
  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman's Awakening by Manal Al-Sharif- I've had this book on my to-read list for a while. I'm glad I didn't read it until now because I have a better understanding of what it feels like to not be able to drive. I told Ty before reading this that I couldn't imagine what it would be like to not be able to drive if your husband was mean or controlling because I was completely at his mercy over where I could go outside of Carter's school and my work. It definitely made me even more empathetic to the plight of women who are barred from driving and also brought home the serious expense of not being allowed to drive when you have to hire a driver to take you places. Manal's story was so amazing and I kept thinking of Malala as I read this book. I'm so proud of these strong women who take stands not just for themselves, but also for future generations. I think speaking out would have been even more difficult for Manal because she didn't have the support of her family like Malala did. My favorite quote in the book was, "The rain begins with a single drop." She said that a couple times in the book and then used it as the last line of the book, it gave me goosebumps. I highly recommend this book.
  • Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits by Reese Witherspoon- When I saw this book listed as a new release I put it on hold at the library. It took a long time to come in and there were holds behind me. When I went to pick it up at the library I was surprised it wasn't the size of a regular book. I picked it up and flipped it open and saw there were some recipes in the book. I decided I'd just look through it while the kids picked out books and return it since it wasn't what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be more of a memoir. But then I started reading it and I really enjoyed it. It was super cute with fun stories from Reese's childhood mixed in. There were a few recipes but this wasn't a recipe book. It was really interesting, not like anything I'd ever seen before. I kept it on the bathroom counter and read it as I brushed my teeth, put on make up, got dressed, or did my hair. It was easy to pick up and start again and even just reading snippets here and there I still finished it in less than a week.
  • The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler- I was really excited to read this one and ended up being disappointed. I think I expected too much from it. I was hoping it would be lively discussions about Austen, more of a novel interspersed with literary criticism. The book ended up having very little discussion about Austen within their book club meetings. It was much like an actual book club, a little bit of discussion about the book and then conversations veering off topic and on to other things.
  • Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou- A few months ago when I finally read my copy of Letters to My Daughter which I'd been gifted and never read, I discovered Angelou had written one last autobiography I didn't know about. I absolutely love her and bought the book with some birthday money. I enjoyed the book so much because she gave details which had been omitted from the version of the story she told in other books as well as other stories not included previously. I also enjoyed reading about her relationship with her mom as her mom aged and eventually died. She has such a way with words you could feel the love they had for each other. I still feel like there is a gaping hole in the world when I remember that Angelou is no longer living here. She was such a remarkable woman.
  • The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe- This was a book my mom read and then gave to me. I couldn't remember what she said when she gave it to me so I didn't really know what to expect. I had recently read The Jane Austen Book Club so I wondered if it would be organized in a similar way. The author wrote the book about an informal book club he and his mother had once she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was a very touching story and was a beautiful testament to his mother and the extraordinary life she lived. Even though I knew his mother was going to die from the beginning, I still found myself crying at the end of the book. It was heart wrenching and a reminder that losing a parent is so hard at any age. It broke my heart as I thought of my mom and how she lost her mother. The mom in the book had a very similar cancer to the one my grandmother was diagnosed with.
  • Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh- With the wonderful reviews on this book I was surprised that I didn't enjoy it more than I did. There was some great advice in the book but I found my favorite part of the book was at the end when Lindbergh wrote a special piece for the 25th anniversary of the book. It may have been bad timing that I read this one right after Eleanor Roosevelt's book which was similar to this one but better in my opinion. I liked that each chapter showed a picture of a different sea shell and she used the sea shell as a theme for the essay. This might have been one that I would have liked more as an actual book because although it was short and the essays were short, I found my mind wandering quite a bit while reading the book. I may try it again as a regular book at some point, but I am also more interested in reading more books written by her than re-reading this one.
  • The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King- After listening to The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers I was disappointed and wanted something more substantial. This was an audiobook I had seen on Hoopla and had also been interested in. I just listened to the other one first because it was shorter and I was waiting on an audiobook I had on hold. I ended up listening to this one instead of the one I'd had on hold because I really wanted to listen to it. I absolutely loved this book and enjoyed all the stories included in the book. I hadn't realized how many influential developmental psychologists he had worked with, including Erik Erikson. The story was so uplifting. Listening to his story gave me an increased belief in the goodness of people and made me thankful for the opportunity I have to help young children grow and learn. I've always said the most important part of my job is not teaching the curriculum, it is teaching children how to be productive members of society. It was nice to have that validation through Mr. Rogers' beliefs and research.
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson- I saw my mom recommend this book to someone on Facebook so I added it to my reading list. Bryson and his friend, Katz, decide to hike the Appalacian Trail (AT). I loved the sections describing Bryson and Katz's adventures. I didn't enjoy the section where Bryson walked the trail by himself nearly as much. You really needed Katz in the story for comedic effect. He was awesome! Listening to the story left me with an interest in the AT, but not with backpacking with a 40 pound pack. It also made me want to go for a hike! When I was checking to see if I'd spelled Katz's name correctly while writing this (it's funny that listening to an audiobook instead of reading the book I wasn't sure how it was spelled, but I had spelled it correctly), I saw this book was made into a movie. I would like to watch it, I bet it's pretty funny!


  1. I cried at the end of The End of Your Life Book Club too, and found all the people in that family amazing. I couldn't believe what they'd actually done. It shows that socio-economic status and schooling can make a huge difference in life, etc.