End of 2015 Reading

As a result of my last reading post and the reading crisis within which I found myself, a generous friend gifted me a book: Me Before You. An avowed Read-Page 1-To the End reader, whereas I am a Read-the Last Page-About a Chapter In reader, she swore me to uphold End Page Secrecy. I did, and I’m glad. I couldn’t possibly have understood the last page before its time.

And then I have these ambitious friends who have posted on Facebook their tremendous accomplishments of having read 60 or so books in 2015. Egads, people! You must read at Light Speed. And yet, they inspire me.

So I looked at my Goodreads account a few weeks ago and gauged a realistic number: I could reach 30 books by 2015’s end. The last one is a bit of a cheat, a book of “cat poetry” I read aloud with Tween, accompanied by his hilarious cat-howl laughter. It was fun, not at all serious together-time, and worthy for those very reasons.

So here are my last few books of 2015. Happy reading in 2016!

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In desperate need of a new story to whisk me away, a friend gave me this book. Indeed it whisked me away. I fell in love with two worlds-apart characters who meet up over extraordinary-ordinary reasons: need and money. Without beating me over the head, this story had me think deeply and want to live bigger, and with more love. And it broke my heart in the best way.

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seemingly ordinary yet terribly broken characters crash their lives into one another, telling lies and believing whatever seems most convenient, until tragedy befalls each one. Not a perfect book, but a quick and suspenseful read.

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible StandardsFor the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book of essays made me laugh and cry and think and feel. As a 40-something pastor’s wife/writer with kids at home, Jen and I share so much in common that occasionally I wanted to beat the book on my head and ask, “Why didn’t I write this?” But she is much, much funnier than I am, and I will read whatever she writes. I preferred Seven, but I’m sure I will return to the essays in this book from time to time.

Three Times Lucky (Tupelo Landing, #1)Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another great read-aloud to share with my Tween – original characters, entrancing writing, fast-paced and engaging story. I would guess the only reason this Newbery Honor Award book didn’t win the Newbery itself is because of tough competition in 2013 (winner: The One and Only Ivan, also a delight).

A Northern LightA Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A coming of age story set in 1906 Adirondacks, this book gives a fascinating view into another time and place, centered on Mattie, a poor, smart farm girl raising her siblings after her mother’s death from cancer. She longs for a life of the mind while struggling against the harsh physical realities of her days. Mattie’s life juxtaposes Grace’s unfortunate and untimely death, one who can change her fate and the other eternally trapped. Not a perfect book, as the jumping back and forth in time make it confusing at times, especially for a YA book.

A Year of Living Prayerfully: How a Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer LifeA Year of Living Prayerfully: How a Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer Life by Jared Brock
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is fairly well-written, entertaining, thoughtful and funny in turns, and a complete mess. I have marked sections I want to remember and wish I could excise whole chapters. Brock is smart, energetic, and wants to change the world in Jesus’ name. To do so, he knows he needs to learn how to pray. But some of the stops along his journey seem intended to shock more than educate – Westboro Baptist, really? Benny Hinn? Even Tony Robbins (and coal walking)? He knew before he went in that those folks were not going to teach him what he wanted to learn about how to sincerely pray in Jesus’ name. He did learn a few things about prayer throughout the year, and he  gleaned truth to share, I just wish the book had been more carefully orchestrated and edited so as not to poke fun at those who have enough trouble already and to be more genuinely helpful without the distractions.

I Could Pee on This And Other Poems by CatsI Could Pee on This And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Recommended by cat-loving friends with kids, we bought this for our cat-loving Tween. He giggled throughout, and the giggles themselves were worth the purchase price.

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