January Book Update
January flew by in what seemed like record time and looky here, we are already over half way through February! While there has been very little opportunity to read, I stayed up late a few nights (and failed at housekeeping a few days) in order to finish up several books. (I also added a few more to the queue.....sheesh, you'd think I'd let good enough alone!)
The Memory Keeper's Daughter - I had heard only neutral reviews on this one and now I know why. This book's best attribute is that it takes place, in part, in Pittsburgh, PA. (Kurt was born there and the majority of his family is still there as well.) Other than that, I thought it was kind of boring and much too slow. While Kim Edwards seems to be a decent writer, I think she tried to fit in too much and, in doing so, failed to do a stellar job on any of it. It was much too predictable, offering very few twists and turns and quite honestly, I almost put it down midway. But what do you expect for a book based in Pittsburgh. Just kidding, family! That was the only redeeming aspect in my opinion. But then, maybe some of you loved it and I am just too picky....
If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus -- This book, by Quaker minister Philip Gulley, was a pretty fantastic look at today's church and how we could improve it to be more like what Jesus might envision for the church. He was fairly insightful in his examination and I found it thought provoking (a great treadmill read) and challenging. This would be great for any congregation looking to improve their ministry and fellowship.
More than a Carpenter -- Written by Josh and Scott McDowell, graduates of Talbot Theological Seminary (a fairly conservative, evangelical seminary in CA), this book is an attempt to "prove" that Jesus is who Christians say he is; that the resurrection is real and that the Bible is 100% accurate. I read this at the suggestion of a friend and had to grin and bear my way through it. I found the often flawed and quite circular logic to be off-putting and although it is a tiny book, I had a hard time finishing it. This book was a goner for me from the start though as I believe faithful witness of how lives are changed by God is far more powerful than an attempt to "prove" the truth or inerrancy of the Bible (most often using the Bible as evidence that the Bible is true......in other words, because the Bible says so it must be so. For skeptics however, that argument just might not have the impact these writers are hoping to attain....just sayin'.)
The Time Traveler's Wife -- I will admit, I am a sucker for a book that so completely engages me that I fail to change diapers, clothe children, clean bathrooms or do laundry. (My family is not as excited when I find such a book!) This book by Audrey Niffenegger was engaging, perhaps not to THAT extent, but I really found it entertaining and enjoyable. If you can suspend reality as we know it and like an unconventional, Sci-Fi love story, this book is worth the read.
Traveling Mercies -- This was the first Anne Lamott book I have read and she may just be my new hero. She is witty, brutally honest, deeply spiritual in a down-to earth sort of way, inspirational yet relatable (even if your life is nothing like hers, you read her stories and nod your head as if you were by her side the entire ride), and down-right funny. This book tells of her faith journey from her childhood to her days as an alcoholic and drug addict to various deaths of loved ones and the birth of her son, how she found the right church to help her along the path and how she got herself turned around through it all. I loved this book so much that I immediately purchased her book on writing called Bird by Bird, and am almost done reading it for the second time! (Yay iPad on my runs!)
The Hanson's Marathon Method -- Easily the best book on marathon running that I have read (in all fairness, it is the only book on marathon running I have ever fully read.) Luke does a great job of explaining the science behind the various running workouts and the plan itself (although at times this makes for fairly dull reading). Full of charts and graphs, he lays out workout-specific paces and how to set your marathon goal pace as well as intensities for various runs. He covers basic nutrition/hydration for runners, different types of running specific stretches and strength routines, pre- and post-race plans, (had I read this book BEFORE I ran the last marathon I might have saved myself seven months of Physical Therapy and pain by NOT running for two full weeks post-race! Live and learn....), race-day fueling and strategies, basically everything you possibly need to complete a good race. I highly recommend this book, especially if you have run a marathon or two and are eager to tweak your training or take it to a new level.
Grace for the Good Girl-- I have to admit I was disappointed by this book. As a blogger, Emily is terrific. She is inspirational, calming, simplistic. Her writing is everything mine is not, how I would want to write if I weren't me, and I love her for it. Her book, however, took on a very different voice. She is trying to be vulnerable but it comes off as almost pitiful or immature. You want to just tell her to suck it up, this is life, move on. (Kurt says I need to work on my empathy skills....perhaps he is on to something.) But, but....I can relate to a lot of it and have had fairly good discussions with my mom's group and another friend about it. So, all is not lost. I have come to realize though that perhaps this a book that would have been great for the former me, the me of yesteryear who hadn't gotten to the place of letting good enough alone. Since I recently reached perfection however, I no longer need the reminders of our utter need for God's grace..... (JUST KIDDING!) I don't think I will be recommending it, however, her blog, Chatting at the Sky, is well worth a peek!
That's it. I am still working on the others and am fairly certain they will be read by Christmas.....2015.
Have a great weekend, friends!