What I’m reading: summer 2013

Someone once told me, after if I asked if they liked to read, that they didn’t read because they don’t have a hard time sleeping. I found that funny but also a little bit true. I’ve never been a good sleeper. But I’m a pretty voracious reader. I posted a few books I’ve been reading last week, and promptly remembered a few I’d forgotten (and finished a few more). Here are some more books I’ve enjoyed recently.

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Orphan Justice by Johnny Carr – Written by an executive from Bethany Christian Services, this book explores the facets of orphan care beyond adoption: what’s working, what isn’t, and how we can do more.

The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah – This is a short but profound book about an unlikely friendship between two boys during WWII, set in Mauritius. Our book club read it and found it a quick and meaningful read.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – It seems like everyone I know has been reading this book, so I feel weird say it, but I was a little ambivalent on this one. It was like Dawson’s Creek dialogue in a Nicholas Sparks novel. It may have helped if I had known it was target for young adults before I started reading, but even still . . . . not my favorite.

Quiet by Susan Cain – I’ve been looking forward to reading this, but was a little disappointed. The book does a great job of explaining how to interact with introverts and what their strengths are, but I guess, as an introvert, I was hoping for a little more practical application.

Celebrity sTalker by Suzy Soro – Suzy is one of the funniests gals I know on twitter, and this book chronicles her hilarious obsession with celebrities as a struggling comic in Los Angeles.

Divergent by Veronica Roth – This came highly recommended but it was not for me. AA little too “adolescent fiction”.

Sacred Subdivisions by Justin Wilford – We met Justin at a part a few months ago and I was so interested to hear about his book. It’s a fascinating look at the megachurch phenomenon, written from a secular perspective.

Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight by Sharon Heller – This is a really good read on Sensory Processing Disorder and how to manage life while being easily overwhelmed to sensory input (which I am.)

What I’m reading: spring/summer 2013

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit of a book hoarder. I usually have a precariously-placed tower of books on my nightstand, but recently that tower has spilled over onto the floor and the nearby chair. I thought I’d share a few of the books I’ve enjoyed recently. Photo May 07, 12 10 30 AM Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos – This memoir details Nia’s journey through infertility and then the foster-adopt system with humor and poignancy. I love it. Wild by Cheryl Strayed – In her 20’s, Cheryl made the decision to backpack alone for 2 months on what become a healing journey. I loved this book, though I’m not quite ready to hit the PCA. A Pocket Guide to the Bible by Jason Boyett – This book is a hilarious little guide to the bible that is both entertaining and informative. It’s a fun read no matter what your faith.  Unfinished by Richard Stearns – The CEO of World Vision issues a strong call to action for Christians to get involved in social justice. Great read. O Me of Little Faith by Jason Boyett – (Jason Boyett fan club, party of one!) This memoir explores Jason’s doubts about his faith in a way that is raw, honest, and often hilarious.  I related to it so much. How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp by Shawn & Maille Smucker – Shawn and Maille pack up their kids and head out for a road trip, living life out of a blue bus as they travel across the country. It’s an epic adventure book but it’s sprinkled with observations on parenting, faith, and life. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – This is one of those books I’ve owned forever but never got around to reading, and I finally picked it up. I really enjoyed this book but (without giving away too much) I found the ending a bit contrived.

we need to talk about the hunger games

It’s almost a little embarrassing to admit how engrossed I got in the Hunger Games book series.  I suppose it would be slightly less embarrassing if the series were in a section other than “young adult literature” . . . but I’m comforted with the knowledge that I am not the only 30-something who went off the deep end for a few days, not sleeping and ignoring my children to finish these books. I can’t remember the last time I was so obsessed with the book that I was willing to forego sleeping, eating, and basic hygiene to keep reading.  (Okay, yes, I CAN remember the last time I did that, and it’s equally embarrassing. Team Edward.)  Anyways. Did you read it?  Did you love it?  Are there things you need to process with a group of like-minded people?  Well, here’s your place.

Disclosure: I’m about to give away major plot points, so if you haven’t read the books and don’t want to hear about the ending, LOOK AWAY!  Go read this blog making fun of crazy things on pinterest.  Like this:

Source: hungergamesarena via by Denise Froehlich on Pinterest

Click here to read the rest of this post, but only read on if you’ve read all three books or don’t care if you learn the ending.

HUNGER GAMES SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!  PEOPLE READING IN GOOGLE READER, AVERT YOUR EYES!

Alright – about the books.  I truly loved them and initially, I was really satisfied with the ending . . . but probably because I was Team Peta and appreciated that we weren’t left hanging about what happened to both of them.  However, after a day or two I started mulling it over, and felt a little disappointed that the ending was so rushed.  It almost felt as though the author just gave up or got tired towards the end, and threw together a quick ending.  I found it odd that so much of the action of the ending took place “off-screen” For example, the trial that we learn about after the fact . . . why wasn’t that written out?  Or Gale . . . he was a major character and we just get a paragraph about what happened to him?  So I’ll admit, the ending left me wanting a bit, and I have some hope that the movie will provide a bit more closure.

I was also not thrilled with the way Katniss was left alone at the end of the book.  She was basically a hero who saved her generation from the likely tyrannical rule of Coin, and yet she’s left alone with a drunk and a guy who tried to kill her twice?  Why didn’t Gale or her mother check in on her?

My biggest curiosity, though, is a part of the book that Mark and I interpreted very differently.  (That’s right. Mark read the whole series too. There was about a week there where CPS probably could have laid claim to our children for neglect, because the two of us were so addicted to these books).  Anyways, towards the end, there is a scene where the Hunger Games contestants who survived meet with Coin, and she makes them vote on whether or not they should hold more Hunger Games as a punishment for The Capitol.  Peeta votes against it, which is consistent with his character, but Katniss votes for it.  Why does she do this??  When I first read the book, my assumption was that she did it as a ploy to stay on Coin’s good side, so that she would have the opportunity to take her down.  But Mark (and many others I’ve spoken to) thought that it was her true vote . . . that it signified a breakdown in her own moral compass after having been through so much.  Mark felt it illustrated man’s propensity towards revenge in the face of grief.  Honestly, I feel like that interpretation really changes the book and the character for me.

So, what do you think?  Was Katniss’s vote an attempt to keep Coin appeased so she could have time to enact her revenge on Coin?  Or had Katniss been through so much that she was willing to place other children in the same horrific situation? And how does her motive here change the ending and moral of the book?

book club ideas

Well. This was not actually meant to be a post. I was sitting with my friends at book club this evening, and we were trying to decide what to read next. Every month we narrow our choices down to about six books, and then the next month we can’t remember any of the previous suggestions. So I told the group I would make a running list. And I remembered that last night I made a posterous account, so that I could have somewhere to dump my instagram photos. I told my friends I would post the list there. This caused my friends to laugh at me for having yet another social media account. One of them may have threatened an intervention. Then one of my friends discovered that the list I thought I emailed to my new posterous account just posted to my blog, and they laughed at me again, because it was so cryptic and random. And then I made a big deal about it, and they told me I could just delete it, and I tried to explain that it had just been auto-updated to my facebook page and fan page and twitter, and they just laughed at me more. Then I tried to explain google reader and broken links and 404 errors. More laughter. So, the moral of the story is: a) my friends mock me, b) you cannot fix a cryptic blog post with a paragraph of exposition, but you can try, and c) we need help picking our next book club book. What do you recommend?

(For the book club, I mean. Although I’m open to suggestions on how to elicit more empathy from my friends as well.)

Swamplandia!
  
Angle of Repose (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
Zeitoun 
Freedom: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)
The Alchemist
 The Alchemist 
The Secret Scripture: A Novel
 
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel