Category Archives: Reading

January 2017 Reading Recap

The first reading recap of 2017 is here! Yay!

Not a bad start to the year, either. I read 8 books this month, though about half of them have been easy re-reads. I’m still glad to be off to a strong start and to give myself a little padding for later in the year when I inevitably slack off, haha. I am 15% done with my annual challenge of reading 52 books in a year!

Feel free to friend me on Goodreads to see all the books I’ve read and to follow my progress!

Wild by Cheryl Strayed – 3/5 stars

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailAt 26, Cheryl is at a quarter-life crisis. Her mother just died, she recently got a divorce, and she has no money and no plans. On a whim, she decides to hike the Pacific Coast Trail, a trail 2,650 miles long that spans from Mexico to Canada. Cheryl has no experience or knowledge of backpacking or hiking or climbing mountains, but she goes.

I really had a hard time determining whether I liked this book or not. I loved Cheryl’s sheer will and tenacity to go on this crazy adventure even though she’s clearly out of her league, and I really enjoyed learning all the basics of hiking alongside her. It was amazing to see her put everything she needs to survive in one large backpack (and have to carry it!), how she purified her water, how she slept at night and protected her food. All the aspects of the book that pertained to her hike fascinated me because I don’t have hardly any prior knowledge. I’m a newb, too.

The part I had trouble with was her. I understand it’s necessary to include the background of her life which led up to her decision of why she wanted to hike the trail in the first place, but she was so annoying. She made poor life decisions for no apparent reason at all, and then she complained and wondered how she got into those situations in the first place. It was also a little mind-boggling how very little she prepared for the trip. She didn’t research any farther than her nearest REI store and when she got into these horrible life-and-death situations – like where she didn’t bring enough water on a stretch of the trail because she didn’t want to carry it and almost died of dehydration- I just wanted to yell, “What did you expect???” So while I admired her tenacity and spontaneity, she was also incredibly stupid.

I didn’t really come away from this book with a completely new outlook on life, but it was an interesting read. I think it’s worth reading, but I didn’t live up to all the hype.

Little House on the Prairie (Books #1-4) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods – 5/5 stars | Little House on the Prairie – 5/5 stars | Farmer Boy – 4/5 stars  | On the Banks of Plum Creek – 4/5 stars

2612801These are some of my favorite childhood books. I have a paperback copy of the whole series that are well-worn because I have read them so many times. I still have some books at my mom’s house that I went over to pick up and I found these in that pile. I hadn’t read them in a long time and when I was flipping through, I remembered how much I enjoyed them and wanted to read them again.

I enjoyed them just as much on this read-through as I did when I was younger. Life back in the 1800s is so vastly different than today, so it’s always interesting to read how they did everything by hand and to view it all through Laura’s childlike wonder. Everything is new and exciting, and while they’re written for children, they’re just as enjoyable for adults. There are actually a few things that I’ve caught that I didn’t fully understand when I was younger.

77769For example, Laura’s father tells her and her sister not to slide down the haystack he’s worked to put together. So when he finds the hay scattered all over, no longer in a stack, he asks her if she slid down it again. She answers no, she didn’t slide down it, but she did roll down it. He turns around and she sees his back quivering. I realize now that it’s because he is laughing at her logic, but doesn’t want her to know

My least favorite of these four I read this month are Farmer Boy and Little House on Plum Creek. While I still enjoyed them, they just aren’t my favorites in regards to the story line. I’ve always loved Little House in the Big Woods, the first book in the series, as everything is just normal every day life before they decide to hitch everything up and move west. I’ve got the first four down in the series, now five more to go!

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiogrophy by Neil Patrick Harris – 4/5 stars

20170296NPH’s autobiography is everything you think it might be: funny, witty, cleverly unique, and entertaining. He styles his autobiography after choose your own ending books, where you can flip to different pages for different endings and storylines. Some were humorous, like the fictitious chapters about fantastical ways that he dies, and some were more realistic chapters about how certain aspects of his life might have played out differently had he made different decisions.

All the hilarity aside, I think NPH did a great job giving an overview of his life, including his struggles and how they shaped the person that he is today. I’ve enjoyed a lot of his work so it was fun to learn more about him and his life. The book is pretty short, so it’s a quick and easy read that I would recommend to any one who is a fan.

Happy reading, everyone! Have you read any good books this year?

 

My Favorite Books of 2016

I know that there are still a few weeks left in December so 2016 isn’t quite over yet, but I wanted to share some of my favorite books that I’ve read this year (so far!). I’m not sure if I’ll quite reach my goal of reading 52 books this year – I’m sitting at 47 so I have 5 more to read – but I’m still proud of how much I have read and there were some really good ones this year!

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
23453112I don’t read a lot of nonfiction books; I usually stick to my classic literature, fantasy, with some young adult thrown in there, but this book really caught my eye. Also I love Aziz Ansari.

Modern Romance studies romance in today’s society: how it’s changed over time, how it impacts people, and how people date, etc. The topic is interesting enough on its own, but Aziz makes it even more interesting by punctuating it with funny anecdotes and humor. Additionally, Aziz is so effortlessly funny that you forget that you’re even reading a nonfiction research study. As an added bonus, if you listen to the audiobook version (which I did), he makes fun of you for being lazy and having him read to you and then tries to explain the graphs that are included in the paper copy of the book, which is also hilarious.

Modern Romance isn’t a book just for those that are in the dating pool; everyone can relate to it. Our society’s modern romance affects everyone, whether you consider yourself available or not. I would add this book to your must-read list.

The Martian by Andy Weir
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You may remember my very long, glowing review of The Martian back in the spring. My opinion hasn’t changed since then, except that I’ve seen the movie and I’m telling you, if you’ve only seen the movie and haven’t read the book, you are missing out.

Short synopsis: Mark Whatney is stranded on Mars after he and his crew are hit by a storm and they presume him dead. He has no way to communicate to earth and has to fight to survive in a harsh and unwelcoming Martian environment.

I’m not even that interested in science, but I will say that I loved this book. Mark’s humor is truly what made this book the masterpiece that it is. While there were times that I actually laughed out loud, his humor is so subtle and dry. The details that Weir puts into this novel will have you believing that he is an actual astronaut, because how else would he know this stuff? Let me recap some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

I’m traveling 90 kilometers per day as usual, but I only get 37 kilometers closer to Schiaparelli because Pythagoras is a dick.

They’re not much different than kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because NASA.

And it’s not like these quotes are few and far in between, The Martian is full of these little gems.

Even if you’re not interested in science, this is a humorous read despite the adversity that Mark faces in the harsh climate of Mars as he fights to find a way back home.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
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Ove is a cranky, crotchety old man. He is forced into an early retirement after 30 years at the same job, and after the death of his wife, his life now revolves around making sure everyone follows the rules and regulations of his housing complex. Things are black and white for Ove, and he can be quite the curmudgeon if things aren’t done exactly as he wants them to be done.

The story starts when the new neighbors next door accidentally run over Ove’s mailbox. An unexpected, and sometime unwanted relationship forms between Ove and Parvenah, the Iranian pregnant woman from next door. As the story progresses, you learn more about Ove’s life and how he came to be he who he is.

This is the most heartwarming novel I’ve read in a long time. I found Ove so relatable – I can be quite the grouchy pants in my head, so reading his thoughts and comments about other people make you laugh even if you want to hate him. You can’t, you have to love him. It’s comical and sad, I laughed and I cried. It’s an easy read that you could finish in a day and one that I’m sure I’ll want to re-read in the future!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Nightingale
The Nightingale tells the story of two sisters during WWII France, one an ambitious, rebellious girl named Isabelle who is trying to find meaning in life after she’s been kicked out of countless schools and is refused by a father who doesn’t want her; and the other, a responsible mother and wife named Vianne who keeps a naive and innocent perspective  of life.

But everything changes when the Nazis invade France. Vianne’s husband leaves for war and she must house a Nazi when the Germans occupy their small country town. Isabelle meets a man who informs her of the French who are resisting and fighting back, and she joins the Resistance. The Nightingale displays the everyday horror of war, the selfless and brave acts people make, and the war that rarely gets talked about: the women’s war. These sisters impacted the lives of the people around them, in ways big and small, all while just trying to survive.

I read this slowly, savoring every page, each with new facts that I never knew and situations I could never imagine. Hannah had me feeling everything the characters were experiencing: I laughed with them, I feared with them, I cried with them. The story itself was rich and genuine, at times blurring the lines between right and wrong, and good and evil.

The Nightingale is powerful and poignant. A book that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading, it’s hands-down the best book that I’ve read in 2016.

These are my favorite books from 2016! What are your favorites you read this year?