Well y'all, I am starting this blog post once again and I am determined to follow through. It is one that I have found myself starting a million times before. After creating a rough draft I would always hit the "save" tab and think to myself that I'd come back in a couple of days to add more. After a couple days, weeks and sometimes even months I would find myself right back here, eventually hitting the delete button once again. This time I vow to follow through! Follow along as I read my way through 2017!
For years I have felt encouraged to set a personal goal to read more. It may sound silly. I am a teacher for goodness sake. Everyone in my family reads, I enjoy stories, I enjoy learning and I spend the majority of my days encouraging others to read more. So, why am I having to set a personal goal to read more?
Well, truth be told, in my hectic schedule I not only lack the motivation to prioritize reading, but I rarely finish anything I begin to read. During my school breaks (track-outs), I feel lucky to actually finish just one book.
I will finish an entire series on Netflix and be up-to-date with every news source in the country before I can admit to successfully finishing a piece of literature from beginning to end.
So, being that we just rang in a New Year I am officially making it a goal. My goal is to READ MORE! I am doing this not only to follow through with a personal goal that I have aspired to set many times before. But, to encourage my students to read more, to grow intellectually, and to prove that with all of this modern technology and distraction that we find ourselves engulfed in, day to day, that there is still joy and excitement in picking up a book and flipping through the pages of an adventure or personal narrative.
"You don’t really start getting old until you stop learning. Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently. " Bill Gates
To hold myself accountable in this new goal I am going to start documenting the books that I read during 2017 right here. I will make myself completely transparent and post the books that I read, along with a personal description and critique of each one.
I hope that as I continue this journey you will not only find my critiques helpful with your own personal book selections, but that you will be encouraged to personally read as well as motivate someone around you to pick up a book.
"The more that you read, the more things that you will know. The more things that you learn, the more places that you will go." - Dr. Seuss
-The Books of 2017-
The Christmas Pearl - Dorothea Benton Frank - (3 out of 5 stars) - The Christmas Pearl was a simple, "feel-good" book that was perfect for the Holidays. It's focus was tradition, family and Low-Country style. Personally, I love the city of Charleston! It's by far my favorite city in America (thus far). So, I was absolutely excited about reading the book. Some of the elements were too far fetched for my tasting and I wish the book had specified a bit more about the traditions of Charleston lifestyle in the past. Still, with that being stated, it was a very easy to read, enjoyable book if you want to be taken for a holiday, low country journey.
The absolute BEST part of the entire book was the ending that was filled with a ton of recipes that are traditional to the Low Country Holidays.
True Woman 201 - Mary A. Kassian & Nancy Leigh Demoss - (5 out of 5 stars) - This was more of a study, rather than an independent novel. I actually started the study with some fellow women from my church in 2016. However, I was unable to finish it until the beginning of the new year so I will include it in the list of books to read in 2017. This is in the category of a workbook. It made me shed a few tears as I checked into reality and struggled through my own walk with Christ. It will talk about sensitive topics that are anything but accepted in todays modern society. But, it is truly a study that will make you question the person you are and want to be. It was backed with scripture and prayfully lead. I would recommend for anyone wanting to challenge and tone up their faith. It can be finished independently or with a group.
None Like Him: (10 ways God is different from us) - Jen Wilkin - (5 out of 5 stars) - This was also a book that I started in 2016 but finished in 2017 so I will include it. I am grateful to be part of a planning committee for our Church's annual womens conference featuring Jen Wilkin (May 2017). This book is our reference for the conference and has set the precedent for what will be discussed. Jen is a wonderful writer! She has a way of simplifying what could be very complex realities. This is a great book to read if you are looking for spiritual guidance but aren't particularly interested in completing a study. It will truly allow you to question, grow and enjoy as you venture through each page.
Lucia, Lucia - a novel - Adriana Trigiani - (3 out of 5 stars)- This book started slow but I was determined to get into it. I was thankful that I kept reading too because it ended up being a surprisingly intriguing story. I loved when I got to the end, after feeling like I had been journeying with Lucia throughout the whole book, she stated the theme which was so fitting, even to the world around us today. It read: "You can't keep bad things from happening. And the good things - I don't think you can take credit for them." she goes one to say, " I don't regret anything that's happened to me, because somehow those things were meant to happen. The one thing I wish is that I had reacted differently to some of the events. I let things get me down and keep me there, sometimes for too long. And I believed I could somehow control the bad things, and that was a big mistake. Things turn around when they're meant to. You can't force it." - I just thought this was a perfect capture for the theme of this book. It's also a great lesson to be learned for everyone. This book really gave a unique perspective into the lives of others and by the end of the book I was sad to be ending my journey with Lucia Sartori.
Making Sense of God - Timothy Keller - (3 out of 5 stars) Making Sense of God was on the new release counter at church so it's a fairly new release. Check it out! In church, Tim Keller is always being referenced. He has become a theologians study tool at many seminaries and churches around the globe and has caused many to question and analyze the truths behind the Bible. So, I decided it was time to check out one of his books for myself. It was a great read that made me grow, question and think through every sentence. I felt like I earned a diploma for making it through the entire book. It was quite studious. However, I was grateful for the opportunity to read it and I would highly recommend it.
Two by Two - Nicholas Sparks - (3 out of 5) - I am a huge fan of Nicholas Sparks. Mainly because of his ties to my beloved home state (North Carolina), but also because of his notorious romantic themes that have highlighted his stories over time. I always get excited to sit back and enjoy one of his newest stories. However, this one, I'm not going to lie, I was a tad disappointed in. It ended better than it began in my opinion. It had a very negative spin throughout the majority of the story which is simply different from his past styles of writing. But, it was a decent book to read and it ended in traditional Sparks fashion with tears streaming down my face but all worked out in a fairly happy way.
Fervent - Priscilla Shirer - (4 out of 5 stars) I started this book just reading page by page as if I were sitting down to enjoy a novel. It took me about one chapter to realize I needed to start all over. This time with a notebook and pen in hand, ready to turn this quick, simple read into a meaningful study. Creating a personal study was easy to do and I gained so much just from her writing and taking notes while I read. I highly recommend this approach as you're reading this one. Fervent had me sitting in my car outside of a robotics warehouse verbally rejoicing and praying, it was that powerful! This "study" was certainly a rewarding experience that I wish for everyone to have the opportunity to experience!
Ladies of the Lake - Haywood Smith - (3 out of 5 stars) - This was an okay book. I had a friend give it to me a while ago and the cover illustrated, what in my mind would be a good beach-day read. So, I dove right in, but I'm not going to lie, it didn't truly engulf me like I had anticipated. There were quite a few too many "fairy-tale" like moments for my personal taste. You know the whole, they met, know each other for four hours, fall in love and marry the next week and everyone is simply okay and thrilled about it. It was a lighthearted read but not you're realistic, everyone can relate story. Perhaps good for a spring day, or two if you're just looking for a simple book to pass the time.
The Matchmaker - Elin Hilderbrand -(4 out of 5 stars) I absolutely LOVE Elin Hilderbrand's books. They are the perfect selection for a warm, summer beach day. An easy read with a nautical, small town setting. The Matchmaker was one of my favorites of hers that I have read so far. I was instantly captivated from the moment I read the first page. I would highly recommend grabbing one of her books that is without faily always sett in the New England beach town of Nantucket - probably part of the reason I love her books so much - This one will float you off into a different world for a while! Definitely recommend.
My Side of the Mountain - Jean Craighead George- (3 out of 5 stars) This book forced me to really step outside of my normal reading genre comfort zone. I am NOT usually one to pick up a book and enjoy it if it's written about nature (Absolutely envious of those who love it). However, I decided that since I was doing this challenge I might as well branch out a little and expand my interests. The book was a simple read that left me feeling educated and even capable of surviving in the wilderness on my own (maybe....).
North Carolina - Terry Fowler (3 out of 5 stars) This collection of Christian Romance Novels is a great, simple read if you're one that loves the Tar Heel State. Very relatable story settings engulfed with biblical truth throughout each fictional tale. It does have three novels in one book which makes it a good, condensed option for travel.
Reason If You Will - Tim Albury (4 out of 5 stars) On an educational and inspirational note this book is one that is hard to put down once you start. Touching on various areas of philosophy, theology, science, and their relation to one another this book serves as a great conversation starter for the age old questions of humanity. Where did we come from? And what is our purpose?
A Book of Famous Queens - Lydia Farmer - Revised by Willard A. Heaps (4 out of 5 stars) This was a fun, educational, intriguing read. A book compiled of famous queens throughout history, starting with Nefertiti, ending with Elizabeth II. It takes you on a walk through history and celebrates some of the most influential women of different eras. I do love good biographical reads and this one hit the spot by incorporating so much information into one book.
Letters from Rifka - Karen Hesse - (4 out of 5 stars) This historically educational journey of a twelve year olds travels from her Jewish community in the Ukraine to Ellis Island incorporates emotional connection, history and joy throughout each page. It was a simple read. One that I had originally bought for my classroom library and though I should check it out beforehand. It took me only a couple of days to read the book. It's short and a simple read but filled with so much depth that you put it down feeling like a part of the characters personal journey.
A thousand tomorrows - Karen Kingsbury - (5 out of 5 stars) This is a perfect read for that rainy (or snowy) day. It is a quick, simple read. I finished in under 24 hours. The setting is ideal, you will fall in love with the characters from the beginning and your heart will be full by the time you finish. This is a tear jerker but Karen does a great job of incorporating faith and love throughout. It was one of my favorites and I am certain you will enjoy it as well.
Walking on Water - Richard Paul Evans - (3 out of 5 stars) Walking on water is a story of faith and acceptance. The relatable journey of loss and lack of knowing where to go next is something that embraces it's readers from the first page. At times the story can be slow but if you push through it you will put it down at the end with a deeper understanding and joy of faith, love and hardship that show up in all of our lives at some point.
Stay Tuned... More Books of 2017 to Come!