136. I like to challenge myself to read books for fun by birthday milestones. Sometimes I review them a wee bit. Trying to get to 150 by my 35th birthday. I am on book 136, so 88% of the way done.

  • currently – A Dance with Dragons, ASOIAF book 5 by GRRM, Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyers, American Gods
  • coming up nextThe Portrait of a Lady, A Short History of Nearly Everything,  Red Rising Trilogy

– finished –

136. Men Explain Things to Me

135. Bright Side – 

134. My Cousin Rachel – 

133. The Handmaid’s Tale – 

132. A Woman in Charge – 

my birthday :)

131. Maude – this was a story that hurt, hurt deep in the gut, and that I couldn’t put down for the few hours it took to read it. Fascinating documentation of the life of the least fortunate girl to ever grow up in the beginnings of America. Non-fiction. Recommend.

130. My Life – Bill Clinton

129. Three Wishes – Not sure if it’s just because I have two sisters or not, but this book slayed me. SO good. Quick beach read.

128. Take Me With You

clinton_-_living_history_coverart127. Living History – Hillary Clinton – I grew up in the Clinton presidencies and Hillary was someone I think we all felt like we “knew” but “you never really know” and her hair and her clothes and her marriage were all too easy to talk about and judge. But something has always drawn me to her, and in the last 15 years or so, watching her come into her own, after years of supporting her husband, and learning more about her history, I absolutely supported her as the best and most qualified candidate for President. I was so thrilled to vote for a woman president in this last election. And knowing she’d truly won but was not named PE has been very painful. So reading this book after the result of the election was bittersweet, as she published it in 2003 I think. She is one of the smartest woman on the planet, of that I am sure. She is passionate about working for children and women. Of that I am sure. And she wants to do all the good she can, and resents that it means being in the public spotlight. It’s not a cozy read, it’s not a beach read – it’s as policy-riddled and politically influenced as she is. But there is warmth, and small jokes, and glimpses into her personal life that only make me want to hike into some woods in New York, find the somewhat awkward, insanely intellectual, incredibly passionate woman I know Hillary to be and gift her a homemade headband. #pantsuitnation

126. All Too Human: A Political Education – George Stephanopoulos – an account of his time from early childhood to early campaigns to the inner workings of the White House during the first tenure of Bill Clinton. In an effort to make myself a more educated and informed angry political liberal Christian feminist, I’ve started reading books about the presidencies of my lifetime. This one was easy to follow, brought up names and scandals and events from the past that I had been too young to understand at the time. Fascinating and enlightening.

125. Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget –  an autobiography, gripping, hilarious, sobering, raw. A young woman in her 30s living what felt like a fun and successful city life comes to grips with the fact that she needs to get sober, and the journey that she takes to get there. I couldn’t put this book down. Some of it hits close to home given my family history and my friends. An awesome read that gets you into the mind of someone learning how to walk away from an addiction.

124. The Things We Wish Were True – Kindle unlimited find. Quick and easy read – a woman returns to her hometown and secrets get revealed and relationships explored. Each chapter has a new POV. A nice afternoon in bed on a rainy day kind of read.

121, 122, 123. The Lumatere Chronicles – post-election had me escaping into alternate realities and fantasy novels. I had heard about this series from friends on tumblr for a while, and with a kindle deal available, I went for it. And then basically didn’t blink for a week. SUCH an awesome series – strong female leads, combating differences, diplomacy, romance, action, twists and turns. I LOVED and highly recommend to any age.

120. Interpreter of Maladies – So. Freaking. Good. Collection of stories about different kinds of love. Made me realize how little I know about India and Indian cultures. Must read.

istanbul119. Last Train to Istanbul – Ayşe Kulin So I’m trying to make an effort to read more historical fiction about places or experiences I know little to nothing about. This story is about a Turkish family before and during World War 2. Two sisters and their relationship with each other, their parents, their husbands. One marries a Jewish guy against their families’ wishes, and they run off to Paris before WW2 breaks out. We think a lot (as we should) about what happened to the Jews during WW2, but this was a perspective I’d never thought about, and I’ve also never learned anything about Turkey’s involvement or struggles during the war. The title comes from the last train that the Turkish embassy was able to get out of Nazi-occupied Paris, full of Jewish Turks and then some. It’s pretty tense, but also there is romance, I learned a lot about Turkish culture, and saw a new side of the WW2 experience. Recommend. It’s on Kindle Unlimited.

yellow-crocus

118. Yellow Crocus – Quick, interesting, thought-provoking read for anyone who enjoys Antebellum historical fiction. I’m always fascinated by parenting practices and plantation life stories. This book was also written by a Bay Area author, so that’s cool. Ending was a little far-fetched but wrapped things up nicely. Recommend.

29981261117. The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchinson. WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS BOOK. Another free read from Kindle Unlimited. I started it at 10pm, thinking I’d read a few chapters and then go to bed at a decent hour (something I’m always struggling to do). INSTEAD. I FIND MYSELF. WORRYING. UNTIL 1:30 IN THE MORNING. ABOUT THESE GIRLS. WHO AREN’T EVEN REAL. WHEN I HAVE REAL ONES I HAVE TO TEACH IN THE AM. This is the author’s second book, I think, and so I am impressed by the action, the cool female lead and her snappy remarks, the twistedness of the story. But there were things that needed to be explored further . . . it left me wanting at the end. This qualifies as a beach read, but not much more. Don’t let them make a movie of it. It would be too hard to watch.

51l3oyxtshl116. The Scavenger’s Daughters – I joined Kindle Unlimited for the trial and am trying to see if the books in there are worth the $9.99 to my credit card. This was my first go. It was interesting – I know next to nothing about the Chinese revolution or what the country and it’s people have gone through, but this was an accessible and interesting first glimpse at it, and a heartbreaking but soul-lifting story about a man and his wife who rescue young girls that have been abandoned by their parents because they are disabled, or sick, or just because they are girls. I read it in an afternoon. The ending was very touching and this is part of a series that I will consider reading in the future.

51jx3zbrjul-_sy344_bo1204203200_115. Library of Souls – book three in the Miss Peregrine series. I finished this in a day. I couldn’t wait to see how this story ended. To be honest….I thought it ended a little quickly and couldn’t really understand it….but until the last ten pages or so I was at the author’s mercy. My eyes couldn’t stay focused on the words I was reading, I kept looking ahead, I couldn’t even put it down to go to the bathroom. SUCH a weird, crazy, surprising story. Pretty dark stuff for actual kids . . . I would say 13 and up is a good age. Looking forward to the movies.

hollow-city114. Hollow City – Book two in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. SO GOOD. I slammed it down in one afternoon. I can’t wait for the film adaptation of this song.

113. The Girl Next Door – well. I kept waiting for the big plot twist, the big moment that made it all interesting. It’s about old people, and it felt very real in a way. But wasn’t the epic moment I’d been waiting for, although it was refreshing to read about old people. Remind me to read these review 30 years from now and hate myself.

magician110-112. The Paper Magician Series – I LOVED THESE BOOKS. England, magic, heroine, kind of love story, action, adventure, never knew what was going to happen next. This could easily be a movie series that everyone would be obsessed with. I wasn’t sure what was going on when it first started, but the author wrote so well that I started imagining the characters and scenes in my head and read it all like a live action film. Read the second two in one day, barely blinking. My only complaint was that they ended! Highly recommend.

109. The Dressmaker – Quick summer read . . . it felt choppy in places. It’s about a young girl escaping a life of service in England by boarding the Titanic at the last minute, employed by a famous designer. They survive and end up in New York, and then some scandals, the investigations into the Titanic, love triangles, etc. ensue. It’s based on real people (some) and I’d never really thought about the ‘after’ of the Titanic, so that was interesting to think about. It only took me 4 hours to read, so buy it on sale. :)

108. Lorna Doone – so. long. and not. that. great.

peregrine107. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. THIS BOOK CONSUMED ME. It is so good. It’s the debut book for the author, who was a filmmaker or similar, and you can tell as you read along. It’s very visual and felt really real and yet was so out there . . . I’m a big fan of what could probably be called YA fiction but really adult in it’s themes. And not really a lot of swearing, no sex, just the story, the story, the story. And this one is GOOD. I can’t wait for the film to probably disappoint me, but will still love it, and can’t wait to read the sequel! SO GO READ.

goldfinch
eh.

106. Goldfinch – Donna Tartt – Well. Everyone had been talking about it. Pulitzer Prize and all. Lengthy. Crazy from start to finish. It was QUITE a story, with characters I’ll remember fondly and plot twists I definitely was not expecting. Like, literally sitting up in bed going “WHAT?!” Sometimes the monologues got a little too long, and I admit I skimmed some paragraphs. Not a beach read, by any means. Took me about a month to get through it, and I finished it just because I had to know what happened, not so much because I loved it.

102, 103, 104, 105. – Poldark books 1-4

the house we grew up in.jpg101. The House We Grew Up In – This book was CRAZY from start to finish, but I really, really enjoyed it. It’s a story about four children growing up with a mother who is a loving, beautiful, free spirit with a terrible hoarding problem. Highly rec.

The Silent Wife tpb.indd100. The Silent Wife – A.S.A. Harrison – I read this was being adapted by Nicole Kidman for a movie and it would make a gooooood one and she would be perfect in it. I’ve never felt more ambivalent sympathy for a female lead character before. Interesting read up until the very end.
the husbands secret99. The Husband’s Secret – Okay, so I am kind of addicted to Liane Moriarty books. This one was another quick, easy read that kept me going on a crazy plane ride. I was shocked by the ending, but pleasantly surprised by some aspects of it, too. If you have a rainy afternoon, pick this one up.

Books Read in 2016 Above

98. Mr. Darcy takes a Wife – Have you ever wondered what happens to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy after  the marriage is secure? This is the wild, sexy romp of the could-have-beens that my dear Jane Austen never got to experience for herself. Written exactly in Austenian style, and staying pretty true to our beloved characters, this book is just fun, light-hearted reading for even the most anal of Austen purists.

what alice forgot97. What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty – I’ve read a few of her books. I love Australian books because the voice and tone reminds me of some good friends of mine. They’re good afternoon or beach reads – I read on a rainy afternoon and couldn’t stop once I started. Not overly complex, but definitely interesting and fulfilling in their own way. Recommend. And being made into a movie starring Jennifer Anniston.

the martian96. The Martian – So. This book was awesome, but so math and science and engineer heavy I had to take breaks. But I appreciated the levity the author brought to the situation…it was TENSE and once I got to the last hour or so, I had to take it with me to pee because I could not put it down. So good.

american heiress95. An American Heiress – I read this because it was supposed to be like fanfiction for Downton Abbey – telling a story similar to how Cora and Robert met and married and fell in love, etc. I am obsessed with that show, and love that couple, and of course can easily see myself as an American heiress being courted by sexy but polite English gentleman. The book was fun at first….easy to picture the characters, but I didn’t love them and the end went too quickly and didn’t feel really wrapped up for me. So this was a meh.

94. The Source, James Michener. This is the longest book in the world. But really good!!! My grandma likes tothe sourcesay that all James Michener books start with the forming of the earth’s crust. And she’s right. This one literally did. I started reading it in APRIL and just now was able to finish (have read like eight books in the meantime). It’s the kind of book I couldn’t just read a few pages – I had to have an afternoon free. Each chapter is at least 1.5 hours, and it wasn’t easy for me to leave alone for a long time. I started to forget things. I really enjoyed the travel through time, especially all the Biblical stuff and spaces I’ve grown up knowing, but from varied perspectives. The “current” glimpse of the creation of the state of Israel was interesting. At times it broke my heart – I want to read more about women at this time. It also made me laugh and miss taking college courses on history and anthropology. Cool stuff. Recommend.

the girl on teh train93. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins. This book got me from the first few chapters. Perhaps it was the fact that the main character was a chubby wine-lover still somewhat hung up on her exboyfriend . . . oh, and she happened to be named Rachel . . . but the rest of the story is pretty different from my day to day. :) Parts made me cringe, parts made me laugh, I was yelling “DONT DO IT” and could totally relate to certain scenes. Kept me guessing until the last few chapters when I finally figured it out, and even then, there were surprises at the end. Recommend for sure, and they’re making a movie! yay. It will probably suck.

92. You Deserve a Drink, Mamrie Hart. It’s like talking to a college friend. And honestly, probably the closest thing you’ll ever read to a college memoir that I would write. I value teaching at Christian establishments too much. Although there is something to be said for the power of redemption…anyway…don’t read this if you are easily offended or think that girls never drink/drug/sex/rock n roll. Mamrie is a gifted story teller, hilarious, colorful, no holds barred. I laughed out loud several times, related probably too much, loved very much.

now a movie that I haven't seen but am already judging.
now a movie that I haven’t seen but am already judging.

91. Paper Towns – John Green. So this is the same guy that wrote The Fault in Our Stars which I read in one afternoon by the pool after swiping it from my teenage stepsister. I admit it made me cry a little. I liked the twist at the end. And I watched that movie over someone’s shoulder on an airplane with Spanish subtitles flying over Columbia. And so I kind of knew what to expect with this book….Green does a little bit of a better job in this one when he helps his main character realize that he’s totally idolized his childhood crush, as the rest of the school population has, and that really she’s just a girl with some quirks. But I get annoyed with how quirky she is, and how unforgiving her parents are, and how completely unsafe she is. It was pretty unrealistic to think that nothing actually bad happened to this high schooler as she wandered around the United States, sleeping in abandoned buildings, leaving “clues,” having a record collection, reading Whitman, saying cool things…yeah freaking right. Books like this only encourage reckless behavior among young girls to make us seem more mysterious. And skipping your high school graduation? No. Just no. Nobody’s parents are that understanding. And of course they make out in the end and everything is cute. Meh. I’m teaching a high school yearbook class and one of my students (female) remarked that she wished high school was how they show it in the movies. And it’s not. It never is. And books and films like this perpetuate the myth that you’re not having a cool high school experience when really the point of high school is to survive, make some mistakes while your parents can still rescue you, and get to college, where the real fun and adventure and risk taking and growing up happens.

informationalist90. The Informationalist –  Taylor Stevens – Pretty good read. It was quick and had some twists and turns, but I felt like it was reaching a bit. Apparently it has been picked up by James Cameron to turn into a movie after he’s done with the Avatar movies. It’s about a woman who was raised in Africa by missionary parents, but ran away to turn into a super linguist gun running mercenary type person, who now specializes in “information,” whatever that means for her clients.

89. Beautiful You – Chuck Palahniuk – the back of the book made it sound hilarious. It was not. I really liked Fight Club, but this was…hours of my life and 14 dollars I will never get back.

Wreckage
Wreckage

88. Wreckage – by Emily Bleeker. Switches back and forth between past and present from two POVs, both part of a huge secret and lie, only certain parts revealed each chapter. Kind of “Gone Girl” – esque, in that you start wondering who you are rooting for and who you should trust. There are definitely some weaknesses about this book…but it’s a total page-turner. The characters are well-developed, I was totally interested in what was going to happen to them, there was only a little bit of predictability, but the ending was a little too tidy. However, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I recommend for a beach read or a book club. I think this is the writer’s first book and a good start. Will probably be a movie soon.

pillars of the earth
READ ME

87. Pillars of the Earth omg. This book consumed me. Being the historical fiction lover that I am, I got to within 1.5 hours left of finishing it, and I put it off for a week because I didn’t want it to end. From the very first chapter I was hooked on the storyline, which is basically a weaving of a dozen central characters’ lives together around the building of a cathedral. I was dying to know what was going to happen, how it would all end. Every time something bad would happen to the people who eventually become the protagonists (there are so many! you have just to pick a fav) my kindle was in danger of being thrown across the room. But I think it was pretty realistic – too much power isn’t good for people, people need a purpose in their life, family is what you make it, God is good but people aren’t, and it can always get worse! I loved the love stories, rooting for the bad characters to get their justice, praying something, anything good could happen and then be sustained for more than a few pages! Totally worth the hours of sleep it stole from my life.

Big Little Lies
Big Little Lies

86.  big little lies – Liane Moriarty THIS BOOK CONSUMED ME FOR TWO DAYS. I absolutely loved all theteacher stuff, laughed out loud several times, said “NO FREAKING WAY” several times, and was only beginning to guess at the ending when it suddenly unraveled in a more dramatic fashion than I could have ever imagined. I loved it. I think they’re making a movie about it and I’m really enjoying casting it in my mind.

this is where85. this is where I leave you – hailed as a brilliant insight into the male mind, and I think in some ways it might be, I get a little bored with books full of quirky people doing quirky family things that would never happen in real life and it all ties up neatly at the end. I thought the movie, which I watched afterwards, did a better job of smoothing out some of the unbelievability of the book. That being said, I enjoyed both and laughed out loud at both.

84. yes, please by amy poehler – I loved this in a different way than I enjoyed Tina Fey’s book. It felt more open and honest and like we heard more personal stories….I felt encouraged by what she said I loved hearing about how hard she worked and the people she has met along her journey.

83. the ocean at the end of the lane – LOVED it so weird and I had no idea what was happening most of the time.

the night circu82. the night circus so good and so unexpected!!! I couldn’t put it down. I had no idea what I was reading or where it was going and then it just did the thing and was great. Truly fascinating from start to finish and I really hope they make a film about it. Makes you believe in magic, or at least wish it could be real for you.

81. wild – gritty. real. cool. funny. made me want to put on a backpack again and just go.

80. the secret life of bees – meh. too “oh look at all the quirky people and crazy stories coming together in the end” for me.

BOOKS READ IN 2015 ABOVE

79. christy – if you like books that are good….read this.

bossy pants78. bossypants – tina fey – this was a quick, hilarious, sometimes inspiring, sometimes heart-warming read from one of my favorite actresses and writers. Who I am pretty sure is a distant relative of mine. Her sense of humor is perfect and intelligent, and it was really interesting to read her backstory and some of what she’s been through to achieve the success she’s had. I love her. Highly recommend as a fun read. Definitely had some laugh out loud moments, and a sweet feeling to it overall.

77. book of life – the final installment of this three part series. I honestly thought it was the weakest…and I could not get a clear picture of what she was supposed to look like in my head, there were so many wacky details. Made it hard to imagine just about every scene she was in, which was a problem for me. And the action at the end, after all this build up, happened super quickly with very little suspense. Kind of a let down, really. First book was certainly the strongest. And I had unresolved questions re: their future as a couple if he is immortal, and Gallowglass…anyway. interesting read but…probably won’t read again.

disc of witches75 and 76. A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night – so I normally am really freaked out about witchy things. I have a somewhat overactive imagination, and there are also things I am really sensitive to as a Christian. (I also can’t handle ouija boards or palm reading or hypnotists. Freak.Me.Out.) BUT a really good friend of mine, also a Christian, who has read a lot of things I have, recommended these books to me and I LOVE them. Awesome central female character, slow burn romance, crazy twists and turns, and historical stuff. I say it’s a win. I’m currently reading the third one. I guarantee these will be made into movies soon and everyone will love them.

74. best kept secret – really interesting look (somewhat fictionalized) about a woman struggling to come to terms with her alcohol problems.

73. Farmer Boy – Laura Ingalls Wilder’s husband’s account of growing up.

70, 71, 72. – Outlander book series 6-8

69. Lets take the Long Way Home – a beautiful account of friendship.

68. Little House in the Big Woods – Can we talk about how amazing this book series is? Totally straight forward, hilarious, educational, gives me all kinds of feels. I just love rereading books that I read as a child and seeing things in a new way now.

63, 64, 65, 66, 67. Outlanders Series, books 1-5

62. Emma by jane austen

mindy kaling's book61. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling. Darling – I want you to know that if they are, they are stupid and silly and we don’t like them. Reading this book was like talking to a best friend who was also myself. So glad I downloaded and can’t wait to read again on a beach somewhere and share with friends.

60. allegiant – book three of divergent. regret. 

59. tuesdays with morrie – I’ve avoided this book for a long time, because I thought it would be too cheesy. It was definitely cheesy, but it also made me cry out loud. and want to tell everyone i’ve ever met that i love them.

58. insurgent holy moly need to start the third one already!

57. divergent – soooo i was reluctant to get on another train with a series that is technically for teenagers, but this book is actually really good. scary, powerful, and feels like something that could actually happen. it’s nice to see another strong female character a la Katniss and not at all a la Twilight’s Bella for young girls to read about. this one is badass.

56. call the midwife book 3 – had me crying on the treadmill in a hotel on thanksgiving. brilliant, quick, descriptive and uplifting, and I feel like I learned so much history along the way. women are amazing. a must read if you have girl parts.

55. a feast for crows – the fourth book in the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire series. A little hard to get through, just because so many of my favorite characters are DEAD (GRRM you soulless jerk face), or will be in the fifth book, which I am beginning now.

54. irish history compressed – solid and easy read to help me get up to keep on my favourite country.

53. confessions of a good christian girl – a must.

BOOKS READ IN 2014 ABOVE

52. call of the midwife book 2 – yes yes yes.

51. tess of the d’Ubervilles – so. damn. good.

50. game of thrones book 3 part two – OMG THE ENDING!!!!!

49. game of thrones book 3 part one

48. interpreter of maladies – very cool book about different kinds of love. Quick read and made me think about how little I know about Indian culture.

47. outliers – very interesting read

READ ME
READ ME

46. little bee – heart-breaking and a must read. One of the most original stories I have ever read in my life.

45. call of the midwife – awesome

44. game of thrones book 2

43. sober mercies – review coming.

42. a year of biblical womanhood – rachel held evans. SO GREAT. Read my review here.

41. the game of thrones – omgoodness. so. amazing. read the whole thing in three days. again, something my boyfriend loaned me. he has excellent taste in books and in women. :)

buck-the-good-earth40. the good earth – Pearl S. Buck. My boyfriend loaned me this like six months ago, and I was put off by the cover…picked it up on Sunday and haven’t been able to put it down. Really fascinating story of the rise and fall of a man named Wang Lung in China, set maybe two hundred years ago, told without judgement or much detail. Really powerful. Highly recommend.

39. northanger abbey – A seriously underappreciated Austen book. Highly recommend. Made me laugh out loud several times.

38. persuasion – one of my favorite Jane Austen books of all time! The story is so slow and calculated and romantic and despite the lack of any physical contact, gives me total goosebumps every time. I lay in bed for hours one lazy Saturday morning reading almost the entire thing.

37. God loves Ugly – Amazing book! Totally inspiring, redemptive, feels good, raw and real look at how God still loves you and reaches for you, even when you feel so beyond deserving it.

36. rebecca – my grandma, a former librarian and forever literary nut, has been trying to get me to read this book for years. i think she even gave it to me on CD one time. I finally relented during my summer break and OH MY GOSH SHE WAS RIGHT. this is such a classic suspense/love/jane eyresque novel that any anglophile would enjoy. I really need to get the sequel! a wee bit slow at the start, but complex and surprising and one of those books that i read as i walked to the bathroom, read while peeing, read as i walked back to my couch. couldn’t put it down.

wild at heart35. wild at heart – this is the man’s version of “captivating,” which I read a few years ago in a book group. I gave this book to my dad for christmas a few years back and he said that every man in the world should read it. I thought that it offered SO much insight into what a man desires in his life, how those dreams die or get killed, and how he needs to find them again in order to feel fulfilled. I found it really helpful in the context of my relationship with my boyfriend and the process he is going through right now as he considers his future and our future. I totally recommend it for everyone ever.

34. I kissed dating goodbye – actually much better than I expected! I thought it would be super conservative Christian and totally turn me off, but I actually really liked it and I think its going to help in my relationship with my boyfriend, just to stay pure and keep the relationship based on truth. really good ideas about appropriate boundaries in all kinds of relationships, and what you need to be looking at for your future mate.

33. boy meets girl – sequel to kissed dating goodbye, about how the author met and married his wife. really good tips for relationships.

30, 31, 32. fifty shades of grey – books 1, 2, 3 – I wish I’d never started….I couldn’t stop until I was done, and I don’t think I’m a better person because of them. I kind of hate myself.

29. east of eden – changed my life. i still think about them.

BOOKS READ IN 2013 ABOVE

I already want to name my son/daughter Holden

28. the catcher in the rye – jd salinger – this was a cool one. great storytelling. insight to the mind of a boy. fast read, but long. i really like it. i read it in the bathtub a lot so it is now very waterlogged in a memorable type of way.

27. home – a memoir of my early years by Julie Andrews. I LOVE Julie Andrews; I want to be Mary Poppins or Maria von Trapp in a really bad way. I adore her. And this book was written simply and was great for a musical theater geek, although lots of names I couldn’t recognize, but the ones I did were inspiring to know that she met and sang for so many, coming from an incredibly humble background. Her family life and origins were twisted and rough but she truly persevered and her talent is beyond compare. I learned a lot about how to train vocally, too. The book ended just as the part of her life that I would know was starting, so I’m curious to read more about her one day soon. Quick read.

26. Jaycee Dugard – a Biographywhat I got from this was….my kids are never going outside, ever. I can’t believe that someone would do that those people did to this poor girl. I can’t believe she survived! Humans can be so resilient. What would I have done in that same situation? I have no idea. I found her to be very brave. Just made me very sad and scared.

25. Mr. Darcy takes a Wife – Have you ever wondered what happens to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy after  the marriage is secure? This is the wild, sexy romp of the could-have-beens that my dear Jane Austen never got to experience for herself. Written exactly in Austenian style, and staying pretty true to our beloved characters, this book is just fun, light-hearted reading for even the most anal of Austen purists.

24. the ramsey scallop – My favorite book as a teenager, set in the 1300s, a betrothed couple travels from England to Spain and learns to love each other, about Jesus, and the world they live in. Somewhat academic, inspiring, lovely in it’s innocence.

23. the rules – yes it’s kinda crazy old-fashioned, but I liked it. I would love an update to include all the modern-day things like rules for texting, emailing, facebook, etc. I think the idea of men wanting to pursue and hunt something is dead on, and we women can be too available and compromising sometimes. I dig it. I am a creature like no other!

22. the color of water – this is a beautiful story, I highly recommend. It’s a black son’s tribute to his white mother. Talks a lot about race, identity, the power of family, the strength of a woman. I still think about all the characters in it and I can’t wait to meet this mom in Heaven.

21. love has a face: mascara, a machete, and  one woman’s miraculous journey with Jesus in the Sudan– michele perry – this book straight up made me want to sell everything I own and move to Sudan to help orphans and refugee children in this orphanage that a woman with ONE LEG and several university degrees started because she followed the call of God. Amazing journey. So inspiring. I couldn’t put it down from start to finish.

20. mockingjay – hunger games book 3 – still not sure how i feel about the end….but a great read.

19. catching fire – hunger games book 2 – a.maze.ing.

 18. the shack – read my thoughts about it here

17. anne of the island

16. anne of avonlea

15. best american travel essays – fun, easy read to keep in say, the bathroom. The authors were fantastic at bringing all corners and adventures of the world to life. It made me want to sell everything and get on a bus in Kurdistan, ride an ice truck through a blizzard, golf in Iceland. It was crazy. Very funny, but also serious and I think I learned a lot about places I don’t normally think about. I rec it.


memoirs of a geisha

14. memoirs of a geisha –  I loved this movie, but the book had been sitting on my shelves for probably two or three years before I finally decided to read it. I picked it up to read because honestly…I wanted something that would put me to sleep. This was not the case with this book. I’ve never been too into Asian culture or history, Hispanic is more my thing, so I learned a lot that I didn’t know about geishas and WW2 stuff. It was romantic, calculating, wordy, and made me feel guilty for growing up in America. Wrapped up nicely with a Disney happy ending. It is a commitment due to its length, but I found it satisfying.

13. hunger games – With Harry Potter over, and the Twilight movies wrapping up, I had wondered what I would be spending my money on at the movie theaters next summer. I’m happy to say I’ve found it! my mom and sisters read these books in quick succession, and I finally caved on an airplane ride back from Hawaii. I finished it in less than two hours and anxiously await the free time to read the second and third. I’ve never read a book like this before…its teen fiction, but written so well that any age could read it. I never once predicted what would happen. And the scenes are described so well that I was imagining them in vivid detail in my head. Part suspense, thriller, romance, adventure, fantastical. It talks about a time in the future, when people are living in a sort of hell on earth, except for the top one percent, that rules the land and has invented “hunger games” as a sort of mindflip and manipulation of the poor populations they coerce and control. The heroine, Katniss, is entered….they basically play in an arena with every move broadcast for the masses, to survive against other players from other districts. Its a fascinating story about human emotion and instinct, power and control, along the lines of “The Lottery.” The characters are drawn so well I find myself thinking about them as I go about my day. In a nutshell: clever, fast-paced, exciting. Must-read. The movies are coming out soon, so get on the train!

12. revolutions in world missions     get this book for free here! This book was really moving and also challenging. I have never really thought a lot about Christianity in Asia…I have felt so called to Latin America, I’ve learned Spanish, been on mission trips there a million times, that I decided to read this book, which focuses mostly on the author’s home country, India. There were very sad stories of poverty and dark “religions” that permeate the culture there, the caste systems, etc. But I was very inspired by the nationals ready to lay down their lives for Christ, being shunned by their families, being stoned, lying in ditches, being martyred. it was also an interesting idea to think about how much more effective national missionaries are than “a bunch of white people” coming in. I see that colonialism fear, that’s gotta be especially true and lingering in India, being a total deterrent to Christ’s message for a lot of people. And it made me realize even more how much of a “missionary” I can be here in the US. Good read. VERY challenging. No one will like the chapter on hell. But you have to read it.

11. moloka’i – a story based on true accounts of the leper colony in hawai’i. as told through the eyes of Rachel (guess why i bought it) from the time she was diagnosed at 7 years old until after her death. pretty wild stuff in here, as it covers the time when the united states government overthrew the hawaiian monarchy, world war two, lays out the struggles between the “old ways” of kahunas and kapu and traditional religion and medicine, versus the “haole” or “white man” ways of science, forced christianization of the hawaiian peoples, forcing them to wear shoes and western clothing, etc. also touches on the way that tourism and corporations changed the true face of hawai’i. racism. adoption. death. there’s not a whole lot this book doesn’t cover. pretty interesting read, and a quick one, too.

10. i should have stayed home – the worst trips of great writers – hilarious encounters with the downsides of traveling from some fantastic travel writers. inspiring, insightful.

9. successful coachinggood tips on team management. funny outdated drawings.

8. crazy love – second time I’ve read it. Best digested in the bubble bath with an open heart and mind. Just now wondering what it is I’m supposed to be doing with my life even more than I was before! Really inspiring stories of people truly living their lives for Christ, and a picture of what that might look like for me….we shall see.

7. night – elie wiesel. I had bought this for History 4C in college, which I ended up dropping for some reason, and just re-found it in my shelves. I thought I would read a few chapters before taking a nap this afternoon. But I couldn’t put it down. Straight-forward, no sugar-coating, very little emotion, heart-wrenching account of a young Jewish boy whose family is sent to concentration camps. He is the only one who survives. I started thinking…at this point in history, most of the survivors of the Holocaust are old and dying. Their stories of the horror have been told, we’ve felt anger and disgust, and the world has sworn that genocide will never happen again but…its happening all over our planet. When all the remaining survivors have passed on, the tragic events will be just another historical account, far removed from our future generations. What will our world look like then? Have we learned any lessons at all.

6. the girl who kicked the hornet’s nest – Still digesting…need to think before reviewing. Mostly just sad the series is over, but glad I’ll be able to sleep at night.

5. carpe diem – put a little Latin in your life – a look at how Latin is present in our every day lives, the value of studying it, and a quick overview of the important dates, places, people, and accomplishments of the Roman Empire. Written by a British guy, so also hilarious and made me feel really smart. Highly recc.

4. made to crave – really good book about growing closer to God and giving up the things I try to fill my life with that are not Jesus

3. the girl who played with fire – read the whole blog about the experience of reading these books here

2. the mother tongue: english and how it got there – a hilarious, witty, clever (all the same thing) look at the crazy that is the meld of the English language. I am a HUGE word nerd, teaching Latin and Spanish, which follow patterns, learning about how the English language came to be, the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and the less than meticulous copying of manuscripts by scribes and monks that led to what we have today…its awesome. Highly rec it.

1. reading the bible again for the first time – couldn’t get all the way through it…i like about 50% of what he had to say…some of it just felt uncomfortable.

the house we grew up in.jpg