I keep feeling like my reading is really slowing down (hello, new relationship and busy schedule and stress at work!) but then I realize my stack of books is still growing... so while it may not feel like I've had as much time to read lately, I'm still carving out enough! Halfheartedly participating in a Readathon helped (I got through Wildwood, When Dimple Met Rishi, and Turtles All the Way Down in one weekend!) and I admittedly gave up on one of these...
I'm so looking forward to these shorter autumn days with less light and more time for snuggling up and reading... Dreamy.
Here's what I read in October:
What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
THE STARS: 5/5
THE PLOT: "For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: This book was SO worth a read. I proudly voted third party this past presidential election, and always had mixed feelings about HRC, but this book made me really respect and admire her a TON. Girl has guts and brains and heart and soul and I’m really glad I gave her an honest shot by reading this one and hearing her perspective. I learned a lot about her actual platform (and about the email scandal that so stupidly took away from her actual beliefs and policies) and a lot about how the whole campaign played out — it was a fascinating behind the scenes memoir that was enlightening, entertaining, and enjoyable to read. I especially loved her thoughts on being a woman in politics— so much wisdom to be gleaned from the way she has climbed the ladder (and from her admitted failures and mistakes too). Highly, highly recommend giving this a shot whether or not you voted for her— I think it will open your eyes and change your thoughts about so much. Well done, Hills.
Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives by Adam J. Kurtz
THE STARS: 4/5
THE PLOT: "Insights and inspiration for anyone who makes art (or anything else). From the creative mind and heart of designer Adam J. Kurtz comes this upbeat rallying cry for creators of all stripes. Expanding on a series of popular essays, this handwritten and heartfelt book shares wisdom and empathy from one working artist to others. Perforated tear-and-share pages make it easy to display themost crucial reminders or to pass a bit of advice on to someone who needs it." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: Adam is one of my faves— witty and wonderful and colorful and creative with a ton of heart and just enough snark... this little book is a gem. The perforated pages are such a fun touch, too! Can’t wait to hang some up around my office for good inspo. Creatives of any kind, this is such a fun read that will encourage you and give you a swift little kick in the pants too.
Kill the Spider: Getting Rid of What's Really Holding You Back by Carlos Whittaker
THE STARS: 4/5
THE PLOT: "In Kill the Spider, Carlos shares personal material ranging from hilarious, self-deprecating stories to passion-filled wisdom--to show others it's not enough to try and "stop sinning." He teaches that knocking out deep-rooted habits and issues comes by treating the issue, not just the symptoms." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: I first heard about Carlos at Yellow Conference a few years ago, and I instantly loved his message and presence. I recently got to sit down with him in Nashville and do some video interviews (my job is the coolest) and he talked a lot about this book— you guys, it is SO good. The title comes from a story about a woman repeating praying that God would clear the cobwebs from her life... when really, what she needed to do is kill the spider. This book tackles the hard stuff and gets right to the heart of the matter— our behaviors, our sin, our anxieties, they come from a deeper place, and we have to be willing to go there and uncover them and do the hard work to truly kill the spiders and stop new cobwebs from cropping up. This book is super well-written, bold, helpful, and life-changing. Loved every word.
THE DEETS: The publisher sent us copies of this one at work!
The Master's Mind: The Art of Reshaping Your Thoughts by Lance Hahn
THE STARS: 5/5
THE PLOT: "The Master’s Mind will show you just how much God wants to strengthen your mind and enable you to rise above the noise that seeks to overwhelm each one of us. Pastor Lance knows first-hand the power that comes from a mind at rest, trusting God’s goodness despite the voices in our head. Jesus died to set us free. He made a way for our souls to be rescued from our enemies. It’s time for us to take back control of our minds, to master them and bring them back in alignment with the Master’s will. It’s time to return to the Master’s mind." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: First off-- isn't that cover awesome? Love the typography and imagery. This book was a solid read-- as someone who is in the thick of counseling and working to address the lies I tell myself, the fears I believe, and how I see myself, it was extremely relevant and applicable to my life. There were chapters focused on addictions, the monsters in our lives, our identity, temptations, resistance, and who the boss is in our lives. I found the tone to be helpful and not condescending, which I appreciated, and it was clear Lance himself has wrestled and worked through much of this in his own life. There were many very helpful and directly applicable thoughts and ideas in this one, and many nuggets of wisdom I wrote down to remember in the future.
THE DEETS: Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for sending me this one in exchange for my review!
The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan (on sale right now for $5?!)
THE STARS: 4/5
THE PLOT: "For Kelly Corrigan, family is everything. At thirty-six, she had a marriage that worked, two funny, active kids, and a weekly newspaper column. But even as a thriving adult, Kelly still saw herself as the daughter of garrulous Irish-American charmer George Corrigan. She was living deep within what she calls the Middle Place--"that sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap"--comfortably wedged between her adult duties and her parents' care. But Kelly is abruptly shoved into coming-of-age when she finds a lump in her breast--and gets the diagnosis no one wants to hear. When George, too, learns that he has late-stage cancer, it is Kelly's turn to take care of the man who had always taken care of her--and to show us a woman who finally takes the leap and grows up." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: I really enjoyed this one! I can't remember where I first heard of it, but I"m glad I did since I don't think I would have found it on my own. It's poignant and beautifully told, and you can't help but absolutely fall for George with his bold personality and huge heart. This story wasn't relevant to my own, but I loved immersing myself in it and loved how it ended. This is a great memoir!
The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan
THE STARS: 1/5
THE PLOT: "It's November of 2020, and the world is freezing over. Each day colder than the last.
There's snow in Israel, the Thames is overflowing, and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to drift just off the coast of Scotland. As ice water melts into the Atlantic, frenzied London residents evacuate by the thousands for warmer temperatures down south. But not Dylan. Grieving and ready to build life anew, he heads north to bury his mother's and grandmother's ashes on the Scottish islands where they once lived.
Hundreds of miles away, twelve-year-old Estella and her survivalist mother, Constance, scrape by in the snowy, mountainous Highlands, preparing for a record-breaking winter. Living out of a caravan, they spend their days digging through landfills, searching for anything with restorative and trading value. When Dylan arrives in their caravan park in the middle of the night, life changes course for Estella and Constance. Though the weather worsens, his presence brings a new light to daily life, and when the ultimate disaster finally strikes, they'll all be ready. " (from here)
THE THOUGHT: I could not get into this one, you guys. I tried, and gave it about 75 pages, but the characters didn’t click with me at all and the writing style seemed forced and awkward to me. I was hoping this would be a post apocalyptic story similar to Station Eleven, but it didn’t come close for me. This might just be a wrong book, wrong time kind of thing, but I wasn’t willing to keep going with this one to see if it could grab me, so it’s off to the “abandoned” shelf for now! Anybody out there who can convince me to keep with it?!
THE DEETS: Blogging for Books sent me this one in exchange for my review! Clearly, I'm always honest about them. ;)
Wildwood by Colin Meloy (just $9!)
THE STARS: 4/5
THE PLOT: "In Wildwood, Prue and her friend Curtis uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval—a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much greater as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: I read this one for #COLLABOREADS this month -- check out my review there!
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (only $10 for the hardback!)
THE STARS: 4/5
THE PLOT: "The rom-com that everyone’s talking about! Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: This story is charming and serendipitous and fun and engaging— I flew through it this evening and loved it. It’s the exact kind of love story I adore reading, and one I definitely could picture as a movie! Loved the focus on the Indian-American culture and the concept of arranged marriages, while also weaving in the storyline of girls in tech and college life and friendships... this one was just a delightful read!
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
THE STARS: 3/5
THE PLOT: "Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. " (from here)
THE THOUGHT: I’ve yet to meet a book from John Green that isn’t charming and unputdownable and relevant, and this newest one from him (thanks, Book of the Month for the freebie!) was all of those things. I appreciated the honest look at OCD and mental illness, but overall found the storyline a little lacking and slow. It wasn’t as dramatic as Looking for Alaska or as emotional as The Fault in Our Stars or as quirky as Paper Towns, but definitely has similar elements (too similar, maybe?) to all of them. This reads exactly like what we have come to expect from Green, though, with his ability to tell teenagers’ stories with keen insight and accuracy. It wasn’t my favorite from him, but I didn’t want to put it down either. I hoped for more out of this one!
THE DEETS: This was a freebie from BOTM! The coolest.
100 Days to Brave: Devotions for Unlocking Your Most Courageous Self by Annie F. Downs
THE STARS: 5/5
THE PLOT: "
With honesty and relatable humor, this compilation of best-of writings and new pieces from Annie will help you embrace the path and the plan God has for you. Dare to spend the next 100 days discovering that you are braver than you know and stronger than you thought possible." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: I have been a fan of Annie F. Downs for a LONG time and her newest book just confirms all the things I love about her. Her voice is so refreshing — honest, hilarious, heartfelt. This book of 100 short devotions is the perfect way to focus on courage and bravery, and it feels like you’re sitting down with a best friend over coffee and encouraging each other to be your very best selves. It’s a gift. It doesn’t feel cheesy or cliche or shallow, but just real and helpful and so uplifting. I read through more than a dozen days last night because I just couldn’t stop— I will definitely be sharing this one with friends! Love, love, love.
THE DEETS: BookLook Bloggers sent this my way in exchange for my review!
Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times by Carolina De Robertis
THE STARS: 5/5
THE PLOT: "Radical Hope is a collection of letters—to ancestors, to children five generations from now, to strangers in grocery lines, to any and all who feel weary and discouraged—written by award-winning novelists, poets, political thinkers, and activists. Provocative and inspiring, Radical Hope offers readers a kaleidoscopic view of the love and courage needed to navigate this time of upheaval, uncertainty, and fear, in view of the recent US presidential election." (from here)
THE THOUGHT: Absolutely loved this one. It’s exactly the words I needed in this political season in America that often leaves me feeling discouraged and hopeless. These letters written by so many diverse and brilliant authors are wildly different from one another, collectively pointing to hope, beauty, bravery, and a better tomorrow. They are rich, moving, heartfelt, striking, and convicting. They opened my eyes and broke my heart and encouraged me so much. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum or how you feel about the state of things these days, I highly recommend reading this one if for no other reason than to better understand how others are feeling these days. This should be required reading for all Americans right now, really.