Archive | January, 2014

What I’m Reading Wednesday

29 Jan
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Love Does.

Simply put, love does.

I strayed from my 2014 goal to read solely from my personal bookcase this year. With The Justice Conference coming up next month, my friend Blaire loaned me a couple of books she recommended, including “Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World” by Bob Goff.

Prepare to laugh, cry and be inspired by Goff’s personal — and sometimes outrageous — stories of faith and love. In his first book Goff shares his stories like he’s having a conversation with the reader over a cup of coffee.

As I read “Love Does” I couldn’t help but think I’ve heard some of the stories before. Then I realized Donald Miller writes of Goff’s family in “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.”

Goff is the perfect example of loving as an action. Rather than just talking of injustice, Goff pursues it. The lawyer is the honorary consul for the Republic of Uganda to the United States and is the founder of Restore International — a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda and India.

I appreciate Goff’s transparency as he shared his stories of failure, but of course with a twist of humor. I was personally inspired by his statement if a door closes, sometimes God wants us to kick the door down.

Goff also shared many stories of friends who loved as an action. When Starbucks launched its breakthrough VIA-ready brew coffee, I was working at Starbucks as a barista. It was hammered in our heads to sell, sell, sell to make store goals of a new product. It’s a shame Starbucks didn’t share with its partners the incredible story behind the product’s inventor, to put a face on the man who saw a need and created it.

But I won’t spoil the story for you.

There is so much to take away from “Love Does” you might as well avoid taking notes and just re-read the book again and again.

This year’s Justice Conference is in Los Angeles. And while Blaire and I would love nothing more than to be able to travel for the third-straight year to the conference, we registered for a simulcast at a semi-local church.

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What I’m Reading Wednesday

22 Jan
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Bridget’s story continues!

<In a British accent> Bridget Jones. An honest soul who most of the time is brash, confusing and comical. But always darling.

I wish Bridget wasn’t a work of fiction, because I would totally be her friend and follow her on Twitter (more on that later).

I had never read a Helen Fielding “Bridget Jones” book prior to her latest release, “Mad About the Boy,” but I have watched and re-watched the two Bridget Jones films.

It’s been more than a decade since Fielding released “The Edge of Reason” which (according to the movie) ends with a bright outlook for Bridget and her Mr. Darcy.

I was so excited to read earlier last year that Bridget Jones lives on in Fielding’s latest novel, but shocked by the words on the jacket cover. Bridget, a widow?? Nooooooooo!

“Mad About the Boy” follows Bridget’s journey as she tries to navigate the dating scene while also trying to figure out the monster that is social media. I laughed aloud as Bridget tried to find her niche on Twitter. Bridget thinks, feels and shares what I’m sure a majority of Twitter users can relate to, but I don’t know many people who wrap up conversations with “Will you follow me on Twitter?”

You’re on Twitter, but what do you tweet about? You have followers and you want to keep them, but somehow end up losing followers after you tweet. How do you get them back? How do you keep them? It is chaos for Bridget and she handles it like she handles all things, with wit and humor, and maybe a little wine and cheese.

At 51, Bridget is crude, charming, funny and adorable. If you want a good laugh, I highly recommend “Mad About the Boy.” To my dismay, it sounds like the possibility of it coming to life in film form are in jeopardy. But we can only hope!

With that said, will you follow me on Twitter?

What I’m Reading Wednesday

15 Jan
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Released Dec. 2011.

For those keeping track, I’ve done really well avoiding the library. We recently inherited a large bookcase so now all my books fit in one location rather than having stacks of books surrounding a smaller overflowing bookcase.

As I organized my books I rediscovered all the fun books I’ve owned but have yet to read. This week’s read is one of those books.

I found “All the Flowers in Shanghai” by Duncan Jepson at a book sale about a year ago. I bought it because the cover reminded me of Lisa See’s novels (“Dreams of Joy” and “Shanghai Girls”). The novel actually ended up being similar to “Dreams of Joy.”

Jepson’s novel was released in December of 2011 and is set in 1930s Shanghai, when little more was more important than tradition and saving face.

The book’s main character, Feng, finds her life turned upside down when she is forced into an arranged marriage with a wealthy man at the age of 17. The story grows up with Feng, whose only role in her new household is to produce an heir. As years pass Feng becomes more and more bitter and resentful, to the point it becomes difficult to sympathize with her.

I’m always fascinated reading about China’s history with the Communist Revolution and Mao’s Great Leap Forward. Readers are given a glimpse into the history through Feng’s character and how her life is affected by the revolution.

“All the Flowers in Shanghai” is written as if Feng is telling her story. The reader learns early on she is telling the story to her child.

In all honesty, there is little hope in this novel. As you read it you will wait for something good to happen, but continuous tragedies bring down the readers with its characters.

What I’m Reading Wednesday

8 Jan

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Let me introduce you to my new favorite book. Well, it’s at least in the top 5.

“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” is a historical novel written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, published in 2008.

If you judge this book by the title you might be confused, but trust me on this, it’s worth the read. I could not put it down and was sad when the story came to an end, because I wanted to continue to read the correspondence between the eccentric and lovable characters of Guernsey.

“Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” — The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Shaffer had traveled to England to research another book when she learned of the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II. She writes a beautiful and bittersweet story post-WWII through letters and telegrams between the characters — a small group of friends and neighbors who find comfort and support during a time of war through literature.

“The thing about books — and the thing that made them such a refuge for the islanders during the occupation — is that they take us out of our time and place and understanding, and transport us not just into the world of the story, but into the world of our fellow readers, who have stories of their own.” — Afterword

Shaffer’s novel was accepted for publication in 2006 but her health began to deteriorate during the rewriting process. She asked Barrows, her niece and children’s author, to finish the project.

This book found me nearly a year ago when my sister-in-law let me borrow it. Like many books placed in my hands, it went straight to the bookshelf, while I read more recent releases from the library.

Where-You-Go-BernadetteThe book’s style is very similar to the more recent release “Where’d You Go Bernadette?” by Maria Semple. It also includes similar humor and sarcasm, but with a much more serious tone during wartime.

The subject of Guernsey and WWII reminded me of a novel I read a couple years ago, “The Soldier’s Wife,” by Margaret Leroy. Both novels address the trials of falling in love with the enemy.

When I’m asked for book recommendations, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” will be one of the first titles I’ll suggest. And my hope is that this beautiful story will make it to the big screen!

Avoiding the library in 2014

6 Jan

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Happy 2014! Hope the New Year finds you well and still on track with your resolutions and goals!

As a year winds down I usually write a list of of broad, attainable goals I would like to accomplish the upcoming year, like pay down debt or travel more. After 365 days I can look back and while we’re still in debt (thank you house and student loans) and while we traveled out of state only a couple times, I still attained what I sought after.

But this year I’m giving myself a goal I know will be difficult to attain.

For 2014 I will avoid the library.

*Gasp*

For those who know me, know how often I utilize the public library. We live near one, our church is near one, I work near multiple ones, but this year I’m turning my back on the plethora of books and materials, and I think for good reason.

This year I have set out to read only the books on my bookshelf. I am rich with books. And the sad thing is, many of the books I own I have yet to read. But yet I still purchase and reserve titles at the library, waiting anxiously for the notification that my items are ready for pickup.

Often times the new books go right to my shelf to collect dust, the words closed in darkness waiting for me to break in the spine and shed light on what it’s inside.

I will avoid the library and I will not purchase a book for myself this year. I will gladly welcome books as gifts, and just yesterday my friend Blaire loaned me two books in relation to The Justice Conference coming up next month, but that’s it. I’m putting my foot down and my library card in the freezer.

I’m already off to a good start. I’ve read a book I bought last summer at a book sale and a book I just received for Christmas (more on those at later dates!). They are now nestled back in the book case as has been “read” and ready to be loaned out to the next interested reader.

I can’t say I will read all the unread books on my shelf by the end of the year, because I’m sad to say there are quite a lot. But I will sure enjoy trying!

This is nothing against the library. I’ll be back. In 2015.

Happy reading!

What are your resolutions or goals for this year?