What I Read: January/February 2018

I’m back after a much longer than anticipated blog hiatus.  In all honesty, I actually hoped to write a little more this year and not make this solely a book blog…you know, get back to where I started. Life just keeps getting in the way, and not just busy work things. My sister had a baby and I want to see him every chance I get.  I stayed up way too late through most of February watching the Olympics so my reading and writing time took a pretty big hit.

In an attempt to get back into a routine, I figured I’d start by sharing the 13 books I’ve read so far this year. [Yes, I’m a bit behind schedule if I am going to hit 100 again this year, but I am giving myself grace and *only* set a goal of 75 this year anyway.]

Here they are, in the order I read them, with a very, very brief description and my grade rating.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Carol Dweck) – I love the content of this book so much I am giving a presentation on it to other school staff this week. However, I give the book itself a C, only because I could have done without so many anecdotes. I found the book to be a bit boring and redundant, but I think it has a great message.

The Witches: Salem, 1692 (Stacy Schiff) – I picked this one up because I find this period of history fascinating, but this book didn’t give me what I wanted. It is well researched, but far too technical than I wanted.  If anyone has a recommendation for a historical fiction novel set in the same time/place, I’d love to hear it. Grade: C

This is How it Always Is  (Laurie Frankel) – An engrossing and charming story of a family with a secret.  Frankel navigates a highly charged topic with love, humor, and sensitivity. I really enjoyed this one. Grade: A

White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America (Nancy Isenberg) – if you’re looking for a macro-lense view of the Hillbilly Elegy story, read this. Grade: B

In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence (Kayla Aimee) – I have a love/hate relationship with the Christian women memoir genre, but this one is pretty good. It doesn’t have any glaring theological errors and offers encouragement. Kayla Aimee is a good storyteller and made me laugh more than once. Grade: B

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just (Timothy Keller) – I do not and will never grade a Keller book, so I will just say that this one resonated with me in many ways and I will probably pick it up again in the near future. As an Enneagram 1, justice is a topic I am passionate about, and I appreciated what he had to say.

If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free (Jamie Ivey) – Another Christian woman memoir — but this is the best one I’ve read in a while. Jamie preaches fire and the last chapter alone is worth buying this book for. We need more books like this one. Grade: A.

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean  Defector’s Story (Hyeonseo Lee) – In anticipation of the Olympics, I read this autobiography of a young woman who escaped from North Korea. This broke. my. heart. I don’t know what else to say.  If you aren’t much of a reader, you can watch her TEDtalk here. Grade: A

Turtles All the Way Down (John Green) – this is young adult fiction at its finest. I started this one on a Friday night and finished it the next morning. A bit simplistic (compared to a book geared toward adults) but charming nonetheless. Grade: B+

Still Me (Jojo Moyes) – This is the third in the series that began with Me Before You. In Still Me, we get what I think is the conclusion of Louisa’s story.  I liked this book, but if you haven’t read the first two, I wouldn’t bother. If you did, you will probably appreciate the closure. Grade: B-

The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships (Suzanne Stabile) – a straightforward reference guide to the enneagram.  I love reading about personality typing systems so I enjoyed it.  If you aren’t familiar with the enneagram and it’s nine types, or aren’t sure of your own type, there are other books I would recommend you read first. Grade: B

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (David Grann) – I had a hard time staying engaged in this book, but think it was because I was trying to read it during a time when I really needed a fast-paced work of fiction. This is actually a very well-written and well-researched book that I will probably reread this summer. Grade: B- (for now…)

As Bright As Heaven (Susan Meissner) – Philadelphia. 1918. The Great War rages on and the Spanish Flu wreaks havoc all over the world. This is a beautiful, touching story of one family’s journey in a life-changing summer. I loved this one. Grade: A+

That’s what I’ve read so far. I will post again with a March recap in about a month.

What have you been reading lately?

2 thoughts on “What I Read: January/February 2018

  1. I’d love to find a great book about the Salem witch trials too. I’ll certainly stay away from Witches – thanks for the warning!


  2. This Is How It Always Is was my favorite book of 2017. I loved everything about it.

    Thank you so much for being honest about The Witches. I’m interested in the subject and have seen the book but worried it would be boring. Finally, I can cross it off my TBR list and look for something better.

    The best thing I read recently was Jonathan Miles’s Anatomy of a Miracle and now I’m halfway through The Broken Girls- a ghost story/thriller. I wanted something fast and creepy and it’s working!


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