Sunday, January 4, 2015

Good Reads of 2014

Here are some of the highlights of my 2014 reading. If you've read any of these, I'd love to hear your thoughts:

The Everything Gets Put On Hold book -- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Like many, I prefer to read the book before I see the movie. I knew this based-on-a-true-story movie was coming out at Christmas, so I thought I had better read it quick. I didn't realize that I could have it done in a matter of days because I could NOT put it down. Why? Because in every chapter you think, "Could it get any worse for this guy?" and then it does. Louis Zamperini's story is better than fiction, as they say, and masterfully written by the author of Seabiscuit. Only the power of Christ allows Louis to offer forgiveness, giving real meat to the words we talk about in church every Sunday. Don't miss out on this book that illuminates a dark time in many nations' histories while offering incredible hope.    

The Book I Cannot Stop Talking About -- Home by Marilynne Robinson

Home is the second of three books in a series. The first is Gilead and the third (that just came out in October) is Lila. Home mainly deals with Jack, the black sheep of a pastor's family, and his sister Glory who care take for their father in his old age. If you have family members who have always perceived themselves as "never fitting in" and can't explain why, this is the book for you. It deals with the tension of Jack wanting authentic faith but not knowing how to attain it (which is vexing as a pastor's son who faith should be "easy" for). It delves deep into dysfunctional, passive-aggressive family relationships and people who can seemingly forgive everyone but themselves. A heartbreaking, beautiful, thought-provoking story unlike any I have ever read.    

The Godfather of Mystery book -- The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

My husband and I started a book club about a year ago and recently someone from the group picked The Moonstone. We had never heard of it before, but it did not disappoint. If you like British mysteries in the vein of Poirot, Miss Marple, etc. you will enjoy this mystery that preceded them all. Leaves you guessing until the end because there are many characters who each narrate the chapters and give "their" perspective.  

The Finally An Uplifting, Funny, Original Idea Juvenile Book -- The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

Lately I have been struggling to find good juvenile literature that I can pass on to my kids when they are in middle school. This one passes muster. Without giving too much away, I enjoyed this book because it has realistic characters and an original plot involving rats, the Vietnam war, and Shakespeare plays. It does not insult juveniles nor does it cater to their baser impulses in its writing (Twilight anyone? Gag.).

The Ultimate Parenting Book -- Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

My husband and I laughed about every other line in this book. Jim totally knows what it's like to have multiple children. Whether it was him talking about what it takes to get 5 pale kids out the door with sunscreen and accouterments for an afternoon at the park or how the more children you have the more of an excuse you have to never go to other kids' birthday parties, he tells it hilariously like it is (i.e. what we're all thinking from time to time as parents). If you've seen his stand up routines a lot, you might feel like you've heard it before. If you're like us who are just now getting around to hearing about Jim Gaffigan, it'll be a breath of fresh air that someone else can relate to your season of life. 

He has a new book out called Food: A Love Story that we just got from the library and we're looking forward to it! The first chapter is called I'm an Eatie, Not a Foodie :)

The Book That Should Have Been Better -- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I love learning about people's temperaments. I love introverts. I am happily married to an introvert. I did not love this book. It not only stereotyped and severely demeaned extroverts as loud, selfish, partying pigs, but it was just poorly written (even my husband who by all accounts should identify with this book said these very same things when he read it). The tedious personal stories and poor assumptions made me realize that if you get to do a TEDTalk you apparently get to have a book deal. It's a shame she didn't do some more research that shade people into 4 categories of temperament instead of the broader introverts/extroverts. Both the introverts and extroverts she talks about are much more complex than she gives them credit for. Don't bother.    

The Make 'Em Laugh Book -- The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Saw this on GoodReads's Best Kids Books of 2014. My 5 and 3 year old girls thought this pictureless book was hysterical. I have enjoyed reading it just for the sheer enjoyment of watching them laugh. It has no hidden meanings, just good for a laugh. Here's a clip of the the author (B.J. Novak from The Office and Saving Mr. Banks)  

I wonder what the books of 2015 will bring? I guess you'll just have to wait and see!