May: A Month of Reading

The past month has been a month of transition for me. It is the final term of my undergrad career and rather than going to typical lectures and seminar classes I have started an internship. This practical portion of my course will be spent at what is my ultimate dream job: working on an acute mental health inpatient unit. Basically I’ll be working a typical Monday to Friday type schedule which means, for the first time in 4 years, I have absolutely no classes to attend! This also means, outside of regular working hours, I’m left with more time than I can ever remember having to do something I forgot I loved so much: Read.

To say I’ve been reading a lot during the month of May is an understatement. I’ve been devouring books, finishing one and jumping right into the next, constantly craving that feeling of being drawn into the words on the page. Also, because of my new work commute, I’m spending hours in the car and have started listening to audiobooks – something I’ve done with the kids for years but never thought to ‘read’ my own books this way. I will admit, it isn’t the same as reading the written word but I do enjoy it!

I’ve finally read a few books that have been on my To-Read list for ages and I’ve dabbled genres and read authors I swore I’d never read. Yesterday was a child-free day for me and although my to-do list was long, I spent nearly the entire day reading. Starting and finishing the book in one day, I even read while doing dishes! But now that I’m done that book, and the local library is closed on Sundays, I’m left with nothing to read today. A day without a book feels so empty…

So because I can’t read something new, I thought I’d share with you what I have been reading:

1. Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

I read The Glass Castle in 2008 just after my son was born. It was an amazing story written by Walls about her childhood and upbringing. It was a book I just couldn’t put down – and this one was just the same! Written about Wall’s grandmother, it tells a story of her difficult life but in the face of all her struggles no one could get the better of Lily Casey Smith.

Both of Wall’s stories literally come alive as you move through them. They are easy to read but produce profound emotion. This book provided a lot of insight into the early years of Wall’s mother, Rose Mary, which answered some questions about her unconventional parenting detailed in The Glass Castle. If you’re not the type to normally enjoy biographies, I recommend giving this book a try. It’s relatively short and never boring or overdone.

2. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Another book I couldn’t put down! It was tragic, touching, and a little depressing! I’ve worked with many people with Alzheimer’s Disease  and done significant research in this field for my degree but this book provided me with a perspective (albeit fictional) I’ve never experienced before. It was very insightful and made me think about many of the experiences I’ve had with individuals with Alzheimer’s and how I could maybe approach things differently in the future.

I have to admit, I hated the husband in the book! So many times I just wanted to shake him, or smack him! But then I’d stop and think who am I to judge, no one can understand his situation until they are in it themselves. By the end of the book I forced myself to understand him although I still didn’t agree with his choices/actions. I loved the writing style and the story.

3. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

The first book I’ve ever read by Nicholas Sparks and I actually listened instead of read. It made for a good story while driving but seemed too much like a typical romance novel – which isn’t my type of book. It drives me nuts when I read stories like this, when people can just fall in love so easily and everything is just meant to be…it was frustrating at times but got interesting nearer to the end only because Sparks switched things up a bit with an unpredictable twist. Although the unpredictable twist ended in the most predictable way….it wouldn’t have been something I likely would have finished had I of been reading a paper copy but since I was driving, with nothing better to listen to, I finished it and can now say I’ve read/listened to a Nicholas Sparks book.

 

4. Man’s Search For Meaning 

This is a brilliant book! I’ve always been interested in WWII – fiction or non-fiction. This is a powerful tale focusing not only on the authors experiences living in concentration camps but on the deeper meaning of those experiences. Frankl believed that we can choose how to cope with difficulties in our lives. This choice can allow us to find meaning in it and from there we are able to move forward with our lives. To hear that message from someone who lived through the devastation and hardship as he did makes this message even more powerful! I think everyone should read this book!

 

 

5. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

Yes, I read another of his books even though I didn’t particularly love the first one! I was curious for some reason and decided what the hey, why not give him another go. This book was different in that it wasn’t entirely predictable. Parts were but there were constant curveballs throwing me off and this is maybe what got me hooked. I literally read this entire book in one day. I wasn’t able to put it down and every time I tried I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I was addicted to it and just needed to know how it ended. Now that it is done, I don’t actually think it was an overly great story and I can’t understand why I was so hooked on it. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters nor did I feel connected to any of them. I didn’t connect with and couldn’t relate to the setting. I didn’t even really love the storyline. I credit the writer because somehow, some way he got me hooked and I couldn’t put it down.

Now I’m unsure of what to read next. What are you reading?

 

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The Christmas Sweater

Sometimes it is crystal clear that things happen for a reason! Perfect example follows….

Earlier, I posted about Christmas and my thoughts on gift giving, tonight’s bedtime story aligned perfectly with my thoughts! Last week we took a trip to the library in search of anything Christmas related: books, music, movies. What we found was very little, it seemed everyone else beat us to it! There was one book left on the Christmas shelf – The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book written by Glenn Beck and adapted from his novel, A Christmas Sweater. It was a story I’d never heard of before and since it fit our Christmas criteria we didn’t hesitate and home it came.

christmas sweater

 

It started out, not surprisingly, about a young boy wishing for a new bicycle for Christmas. Upon       finding out he got a handmade, knitted sweater from his mother he was sorely disappointed. I won’t tell you the entire story but there was a line that completely parallels what I’ve been trying to teach my children about gift giving:

 “See, when a gift is made by hand,
all of that person’s love is captured in it.”

Books for Fun

To read for fun, now that’s a thought!

There is not much that compares to picking up a book, opening the worn pages (because I borrow from the library or re-read them so many times!), and being instantly transported to another place and time. It isn’t just an escape from reality but an entirely separate reality that a great novel can take me to instantly as the book opens – and my kids can drag me out of instantly!

Thanks to the demands of my studies, I don’t read for fun very often. I do read a lot but it is always centred around my academic responsibilities. Sometimes I most certainly do enjoy what I study and the required reading but it isn’t quite the same.

Since my term has ended I’ve finally been able to again pick up a book simply for fun. I started with an easy read, Eat, Pray, Love. It’s a story I love and hate for Arizona reasons. Love the way Elizabeth Gilbert writes, reading this book feels like having a long conversation with a close friend. Hate that it is so unrealistic and provides very, very false ideals about the world. But it is pleasurable to read and was a great story to get my nose back into books.

I’ve now moved onto something that has been a long time coming. I’m too poor cheap frugal to buy books new so instead I borrow from my local library. I’ve had a hold on this book for what feels like forever but the wait is proving worthwhile! I’ve not yet completed this book but so far absolutely LOVE it!

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and if your wondering that is my new “mint sprint” on my nails – love it too!

I’ll share more about this book once I finish.

I’ve also continued my journey through Narnia by snagging the next novel in the series, The Voyage of the Dawn Trader. I also borrowed the audio version because we’ve got a few long journeys ahead of us in this upcoming week.

To add to my recent reads I thought I would share this list I found online. Many of these books are among my most treasured so I’m declaring this list legit.

40 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

http://blog.hpb.com/hpb-blog/2012/4/9/40-books-you-wont-be-able-to-put-down.html

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Enjoy and happy reading folks!

The windows are open and the breeze is drifting in. The smell of the recent rain floats in and fills the room. I can hear the faint calls of children in the distance enjoying the cool summer afternoon. I’ve got a green tea beside me and I’m doing something I’ve yearned for over the past weeks – reading a book. It is not a text book or a research article nor am I reading to edit or study. I am just reading for no purpose other than to read.

This is bliss 

Words

As I’ve mentioned before (as in right HERE), I’m a sucker for words. Sure, a picture says a thousand words or sometimes there are just no words to describe something BUT quite often I run into some great combinations of words. And when they are great, I like to share them.

“Hurry Slowly”

This one gives me the chills, it’s so powerful. Short and simple but direct and to the point. According to the article I read posted on the Women’s Running Magazine  website, it is a Norwegian expression. It was also the philosophy of Grete Waitz, famous Norwegian marathoner. 

Basically it means to do the things you need to, to get where you need to go, but to be patient along the way, to appreciate and take in the journey.

Very fitting for my life…

 

 

To enjoy other quotes to live by check out my collection of quotes page, add to it if you'd like and continue checking back, it is always growing! 

Current Reads

We love stories. We also spend a lot of time travelling. Sounds like a math equation to me:

Love books/stories + Travel a lot = AUDIO BOOKS!

I can’t believe it didn’t even register in my mind that audio books were an option. I’ve done a lot of work in the past with an individual with sight impairments and as a result she was unable to read. I introduced her to the audio books section at her library and she fell in love. It was a perfect fit for her due to her disability. It also left me the impression audio books for people who need an audio book. I’ve had my wake up call. Audio books are fantastic!

Although the kids & I already read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we decided to borrow it from the library in audio form. It was captivating. We didn’t want to get out of the car! Thankfully we spend a lot of time in our car since all our friends & family live approx. 2 hours in either direction! And thanks to the many weddings and family gatherings we’ve had – meaning we’ve been gone 5 weekends straight now! – We were through it in no time! Now we are ready for our next audio book! Tonight we started A Boy & His Horse which is technically the next book in the Chronicles of Narnia series – or so I’ve been told.

Thanks to the extreme heat wave we’ve been driving instead of riding our bikes to school every day (awful I know but when it’s 40 degrees I just can’t do it!) This has given is a quick listen every morning as we drive and I won’t lie, after the kids get dropped off at school I go on ahead without them. I’m completely head over heels captivated by these books which is such a shocker to me – me, the non-fairy tale, non-scifi type reader. I’ve spent my life absolutely detesting anything that is unrealistic. I tried to read Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, etc etc when they were popular and all my friends were obsessed with these. I gave them a fair try but just couldn’t do it. Funny that now, when I’m supposed to have lost my imagination as an adult, I find myself being pulled to these fictional characters and their adventures. Maybe it’s my kids bringing out the kid in me.

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As for non-audio books, we just started Anne of Green Gables. I’ve been very excited to read this, especially to my daughter. I never actually read this book (or had anyone read it to me) when I was younger. But I did have an obsession with watching The Road to Avonlea on Sunday evenings with my dad. That entire era (and Prince Edward Island) have always fascinated me!

I was 21 when I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time and I’ve been dying to re-read it. I have a feeling Anne is the type of character my daughter can become great friends with. We started reading it the other night and I will admit, chapter one was a little dull for them both.

Sawyer is only 4 so some of the descriptions were a little much for him however he simply loves sitting on my lap listening to anything I read (he listened to me read both my psychology and anatomy textbooks during exam season last term!)

Kate on the other hand likes to understand everything! So we did a lot of stopping and re-starting as she repeatedly clarified things “so is that kind of like…” or “does that mean…” Although it’s frustrating for me to stop and start so much I don’t mind – there’s nothing worse than reading a story and not understanding it! I like that she is inquisitive and desires to understand things – qualities I never had as a child! I promised her chapter two would be better because the story really starts and because she would finally get to meet Anne!

Last night we read while fans blasted us from two angles (that’s right we’ve got no AC!) Although it was hot and no one was interested in snuggling, everyone was interested in Anne.

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Almost forgot to mention – we do read children’s books too! It’s not all Narnia & Canadian classic novels. Because there are so many children’s books to choose from, we play a game at the library: grab a random boom off the shelf without looking or browsing through it and bring it home. We’ve found a few major duds doing this but it’s always fun. Recently we found a fee gems. One was The Very Cranky Bear and another was Doggy Bag. Highly recommended

Happy reading!

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