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Sunday, December 22, 2013

What I've Been Reading - December 2013

It's been a couple of months since I've update my blog with the books I've recently been reading.  If we are friends on goodreads.com or facebook, then you probably already know when I finish a book and how I rated it.
But for those who I know are big readers like me and aren't connected with me in other ways online, I thought I'd still share my latest reads!
Books I really, really enjoyed

This book was recommended in a magazine (Southern Living? Real Simple?) and by a friend who knows I enjoy Jane Austen.  I didn't know what to expect - maybe just another Austenian recreation?  But this was different.  A nod to Austen for sure, but not at all what I expected.  I highly recommend it if you like fiction and a heartfelt story.

Again, I can't remember where this book was recommended to me but I know the author because of his books like StrengthsfinderThe author has an incurable illness that he's talking about for the first time - and he shares his detailed research on how to improve your health through nutrition, exercise and rest.  An easy-to-read health and wellness guide with a bunch of good tips.

I read Fangirl (see below) first because I heard so many great reviews.  Then I found out the author had before written Eleanor and Park and it was critically acclaimed.  While technically Young Adult, these topics covered are for a slightly older audience I think.  It's a bittersweet story of outsiders and young love that will surprise you and move you.

My friends that recommended Fangirl must know what I like.  A young adult novel set in Oklahoma (oh wait or is it Nebraska??) in the main character's freshman year of college.  A coming of age story about living in the real world vs. the easy to hide in technological one.  A refreshing read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

We've had this book for ages and I've given it as gifts various times.  In 2013 I finally read it cover to cover.  It is a different take on the normal devotional.  Each weekday covers a different field of study (music, religion, philosophy, science, art, literature...) and each day is an intro to and some deeper facts about a specific topic - Albert Eintein, Matisse, Old Man and the Sea, Realism...  I learned a ton and really enjoyed my year-long pursuit.

My favorite book of 2013 - The Rosie Project.  I was way too far down on the library waiting list so I purchased this before Fall Break and read it in the sunshine of Florida.  A delightful read about an Australian professor diagnosed with autism who decides to put his consider talents to work finding a wife.  I really enjoyed this book and laughed out loud regularly.

I have followed Humans of New York for years on facebook so got in on the early release of his first coffee table book.  Daily shots of the characters and stories that make up the boroughs of New York City.  A stunning book.

Books I enjoyed

My other devotional in 2013.  I've gifted two copies of this to friends and relatives as well.  Joyce Meyer's devotional for women is motivating, inspirational, and tells-it-like-it-is.

I really enjoyed John Green's The Fault in Our Stars a couple of years ago, but hadn't read any of his other works.  I picked up Looking for Alaska at the airport and read it on Fall Break.  I certainly enjoyed the story about high school students at a boarding school trying to fit in.  But none will compare with TFioS for me.  Should I read the rest of John Green's books then??

The Outlander series is so highly rated on goodreads that I put a question on facebook to see if others had read this series.  See, I don't like monster epic-length books.  I like 300-400 pages.  I'm apparently a 5th grader at heart.  But soooo many friends remarked on what a great series this is that I decided to give it a whirl.  Then my mom surprised me with the entire series.  I did like this unique story, but I wasn't in love with it.  I'm heartened to hear that the books get better.  Maybe it's like Harry Potter.  While I thoroughly enjoyed HP1, by the second I couldn't put them down and I was happily willing to move through 4400 pages of the series in only a few months.  So, I'll be back Outlanders.

When we went to The Daily Show on October 1st, David Mitchell was the guest and he talked about Naoki Higashida's book, written in Japanese, that had stormed the autism community.  A boy of about 13 who wasn't able to clearly communicate, used ingenious tools to write a book on what it is like to have autism.  Jon Stewart, who is a crusader for autism awareness, was clearly moved by the book.  We had to order it immediately.  It's a good read, but I find that it's hard to read about children with autism when Brennan is so high functioning now.  It's worth a read and is definitely touching.

Books that were simply OK

No, no, no.  I 'm not sure who recommend Being There to me, but it was multiple people and I just could NOT get through it.  The main character is diagnosed with cancer when the story begins.  I wanted it to be better, I really did.

A friend shared her copy of this book with me and I diligently read it, but it's just too restrictive to me.  Because I have food issues, the last thing I can do to myself is be ultra restrictive.  It just doesn't work and feels punishing.  I have no doubts this book would be effective for numerous people and there are some good tips, but I couldn't follow the plan for a day.

I keep reading John Grisham looking for another The Firm or Pelican Brief.  I just can't find it.  The Racketeer was OK, but not a memorable story for me.
And, that's what I've been reading these past few months!
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends!
Happy Reading!

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