My September 2016 Reads

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Oh, September. I love you. You bring the start of fall and the first cooler weather days and I just love you. I might love October more, but you're still special to me.

This month, I officially decided to bump my 2016 reading challenge goal up AGAIN. If you didn't know, I started with the goal of 80 books for the year... but I hit that before summer. And then I made it 100...and hit that this month. So... I upped it to 150. YIKES. That just seems like a HUGE number, but now that it's official, I've been even more motivated to keep reading, even though my schedule is busier than ever!

Here's what I read this September:


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The Catcher and the Rye by J.D. Salinger

MY RATING: 2/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: It's a classic. It's controversial. I didn't love it, didn't hate it. I shared more for #COLLABOREADS here!


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Play With Fire: Discovering Fierce Faith, Unquenchable Passion, and a Life-Giving God by Biana Juarez Olthoff

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: Okay. I really really try to like books by Christian authors that are geared toward women, I promise I do. But almost always, I find them to be pretty light, pretty uninteresting, and pretty average. I really want to LOVE them and get fired up by them, but I'm just realizing they're not my preferred books and that's okay. This one was a great story of Bianca's life and journey of faith, but I didn't really have any great takeaways from it and honestly even now, I can't remember too much about it a couple days later. I've heard good things about this one from other friends though, so maybe I should just stop reading these books and giving them mediocre reviews and actually read books I LOVE instead. Yeah, I'll do that. Don't listen to my thoughts on this one.


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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I've had this one on my shelf for AGES and just have never grabbed it, so I figured it was time! I haven't read any historical fiction in a little bit, so I was ready to dive in again. This one focuses on Hemingway's wife, and I always find that time period and that whole crew of authors (like the Fitzgeralds and Ezra Pound and others) fascinating. The plot of this one seemed to move pretty slowly to me, and I wasn't terribly excited about continuing to read it. I kept hoping for more action, and the only things that really piqued my interest where the few little inserts from Ernest's perspective, exposing more of his character and his secret actions... but then it was just frustration that I felt toward him and their relationship. I wanted to really love this one, but just didn't think the plot drove strongly or interestingly enough for me to really get into it.

IN ADDITION: If this book idea interests you, I would recommend Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald instead. I reviewed it here!


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Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I am a major fan of Krista Tippett and her podcast On Being, so when this book came out, I was quick to grab it. It was mainly segments of all the incredible conversations she's had with brilliant people through that show, but with additional writing and thoughts and wisdom shared. Many of the excerpts included in this book were ones I had heard on the podcast, which wasn't a bad thing, but it wasn't entirely new content like I think I was expecting. Tippett is just one of those stunningly wise and captivating communicators, and I always am so drawn into her way of thinking and her way of asking deep and meaningful questions of her conversation partners. This book is rich and it's refreshing and it illuminates so much of the beauty of life. Highly recommend you either listen to her podcast or grab this book, but you probably don't need to do both unless you're a mega fan like I am.


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Grace Not Perfection: Celebrating Simplicity, Celebrating Joy by Emily Ley

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I snagged this one before its release date thanks to all the books we get delivered at work, and I plowed through it one evening after the kiddos I was watching went to sleep. If you're an Emily Ley fan, a mama, someone who has a dream that you're hustling after while trying to find a balance in life, you'll love this one. It didn't really resonate much with me overall, but it sounded exactly like Emily (I follow her on social media and read her posts a lot) and was really a fun book, super feminine in its preppy design, with great nuggets of truth for women everywhere. I'm already going to pass this on to a friend who I know will love it!


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Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

MY RATING: 2/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I read this one as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 (it was my choice for "A non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years") and I never, ever, ever would have picked it up otherwise. It was a middle-grade comic book telling the story of a girl who gets into roller derby, and I read it in approximately 25 minutes after I grabbed it at the library. It's definitely a fun little book, but I'm not a fan of comic books, I prefer real depth in the things I read (this wasn't that by any stretch of the imagination), and I just didn't really love the storyline or the main character. For what it's worth though, I'm glad for the nudge to get totally out of my normal reading genres and grab a comic book!


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Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

MY RATING: 2/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: This was another one that I read for the Read Harder Challenge (my choice for "A book with a main character that has a mental illness") and again, I'm glad for the nudge to get out of my comfort zone. This, too, was aimed at a younger audience and told the story of both the reality of high school boy Caden and the inner thoughts/imaginary life he wrestled with and was stuck in. It's a really interesting glimpse into how wild our minds can be, and how conflicting our emotions and feelings can be with what's really true. I found the story to be frustrating at times (it was hard for me to follow or connect with all of the imaginary things in his mind) but I was also really intrigued by putting myself in his shoes and mind completely throughout this book. It seemed to end really abruptly and in a way that didn't tie anything up for me which I wasn't a fan of, so it really was just okay in my opinion.


And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I read this for the "Read Harder" challenge (full post about all of my choices for that coming eventually!) and because I loved The Kite Runner when I read it back in high school. I didn't like this one quite as much, but still found it engaging and moving and really well-written. It's emotional and all about family ties, but I found it slightly confusing in parts and not quite as captivating as I remember Kite Runner to be. A solid read, though!


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You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I just have realized I really love a good mystery/thriller novel, and this one did not disappoint! You think you know who is to blame for the tragic event in this community, but it unravels well and ultimately surprised me. It wasn't a HUGE shock, but enough to keep me turning pages quickly to try to get to the bottom of it all and see how things would resolve (they don't tie up nicely in a bow really, but I was definitely satisfied by the ending). It's well-written, has a great pace, and is well deserving of my 4 stars!

IN ADDITION: I read this on my Kindle (as you can see above!) -- I just got it this past summer and love it. If you don't have one yet, get on it.


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The History Of Love by Nicole Krauss

MY RATING: 3/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: Back in December, I asked friends on Facebook for book recommendations for an upcoming #COLLABOREADS link-up, and got more than 60 responses! I remember that this was one of them, and when I saw a coworker reading it on our lunch break recently, I knew I wanted to finally read it! She loaned me her copy and I got to reading right away.


Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock

MY RATING: 2/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I couldn't finish this one, in total honesty. I read it on my Kindle and was struggling to keep flipping pages, and when I realized I was nearing 50% of the book and still wasn't loving it, I finally just threw in the towel. Goodreads lauds it as: "A heart-breaking, page-turning, life-affirming novel about love, marriage, family, and fighting for your life, for readers of Jonathan Franzen and Meg Wolitzer." I just couldn't get into the story and the pace felt extremely slow. Hardly any action took place, and I'm realizing more and more as I branch out in fiction this year that I really need the plot to drive forward or I lose interest. I might try this one again in the future, but it just wasn't what I wanted to be reading right now. Totally didn't even take a picture while reading it... oops.


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No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton

MY RATING: 5/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: "This volume is a stimulating series of spiritual reflections which will prove helpful for all struggling to find the meaning of human existence and to live the richest, fullest and noblest life. --Chicago Tribune" That little snippet is so true. This book was gold. Rich and wise and heartfelt and poetic and powerful... I couldn't get enough of it. I rarely ever want to re-read books, but this will surely be one I return to time and time again. I cannot wait to read much more by Merton-- he's exactly the kind of Christian writer I love. I read this one slowly because I needed to savor it, and I'm so glad I did. I already want to pick it back up! 


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I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

MY RATING: 5/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I could NOT put this one down. There were so many twists I never EVER saw coming (which I loved and was so mindblown by) and I was flipping pages as fast as I could, just trying to make sense of it all and figure out how things were going to end! I don't even know how to describe this one without giving it away, but if you like thrillers with mystery and suspense and plot twists galore, this is the book for you. My heart was racing even when it was done (it doesn't wrap up with a bow, which I really appreciated with this one!) and I'm still thinking about it and wondering... Gah, SO GOOD. (I got this from Book of the Month-- a book subscription program I can't recommend enough! Here's a code to get started!)


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Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science by Mike McHargue

MY RATING: 4/5 stars

MY THOUGHTS: I am a big fan of The Liturgists (a podcast you absolutely should listen to if you don't already!) and Science Mike (the author of this book) is one of the co-hosts. He's such a brilliant guy, and he talks about science and faith in a way that's fascinating and wise but not at all pretentious or unapproachable. I'm definitely not a science-minded person, but hearing how science both challenged and then confirmed Mike's faith was powerful. I have so many friends in mind that I want to share this book with... it's a unique one, a beautiful one, an extremely well-written and enjoyable one, and Science Mike is just a really needed voice in the Christian sphere. 


And just for fun! You can shop my favorites from this month's reading right here!

FYI: purchasing through these affiliate links helps fund my book-buying habit, and I'll love you forever!


One year ago on the blog: Selah.

Two years ago on the blog:  How to Leave a Lasting Mark in a Temporary World

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