Saturday, April 9, 2011

50 Books In A Year

Every year on my birthday, I start a new list of books with the goal of reading 50 books in the year. The last year was absolutely pathetic. My worst year since I started this, as a matter of fact. A big part of that was me being too sick to read for the first 2 months. Then we moved to a place with a teeny library, then we took a lot of road trips (I get carsick easily). Reading was just way down low on the list of priorities. But my goal for the coming year is still 50 books, and I've done it before, so there's a chance I might do it again! This is where I'll keep this year's list. You can click the links for the 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007 book lists. *all book links are affiliate links.

Past Reading
30 books
8,222 pages

37 books
14,326 pages

41.5 books
15,072 pages

50 books
16,199 pages

23 books
6,843 pages

1)The Giver by Lois Lowry. I always knew of this book, but didn't know what it was really about. One of my 101 in 1001 goals is to read some banned books though and this was on the list. This is a 1984-ish story about a society that has adopted "sameness". Everything is regulated, jobs are assigned, spouses are assigned, children are assigned to family units, those who don't fit in or follow the rules are "released". The main character in the story gets assigned to be the next Receiver, which means he takes on all the memories of the past from the previous receiver. Suddenly, he understands everything that existed before sameness and has to deal with his new found knowledge. I enjoyed this book A LOT and it will definitely be on the girls' reading list when they're older. (192 pages)

2)The Horse Boy: A Father's Quest to Heal His Son by Rupert Isaacson. This was passed on to me from a co-worker of Josh's. It was definitely an interesting read. The author's young son has fairly severe autism and the author has a background of working with shamans (on some legal/land issues). Eventually, the author realizes horseback riding is helpful for his son and hatches a plan to take his son to Mongolia to visit healers that are viewed as some of the most powerful in the world. The location is so remote, extensive horse riding is required to get there, which is kind of the "seed" for the idea. The book is fascinating from a travel standpoint, and an autism standpoint, and an animal behavior standpoint. I appreciated that nothing in the book was sugar-coated. When his son's behavior is infuriating, the author talks about how unfair life seems and how at the end of his rope he is. When he has to drink or eat foods that are revolting to him, he does it, but describes how hard it is. When the healers do particularly "weird" things, he talks about his fears that he is not only not helping his son, but further harming him as well. He also shares the celebrations though. When there is a small improvement, his pride and excitement ooze through the page. He explores the thought of "curing" autism and explains that if autism were curable, his son wouldn't be his son anymore, he only wants to make his son more comfortable in the world, to reduce to seemingly maddening "brain storms" he must endure. Overall, a very engaging and interesting read. (368 pages)

3)The Fighting Ground by Avi. This was one of the banned books I read for my 101 in 1001 goal #11. I can see why it's faced challenges (even though I completely disagree). It's unpopular to explore the idea that sometimes the people dressed in good guy uniforms are actually bad guys or that the difference between good guy and bad guy might only be a matter of perspective. This is a children's book (early elementary age) about a young boy who is desperate to fight in the Revolution. When he hears the town bell being rung to call forth the militia, he runs off from home (against his parent's wishes) and marches out of town with the men. He is so small, he can't even carry a gun properly. He's envisioning an exciting battle that will make him a hero and needless to say, the reality doesn't match up. I will probably have Sierra read it when we get to modern history (if not on the first go-around, definitely on the second). (160 pages)

4)Beyond the Bougainvillea by Dolores Durando. I picked this up for free on the Kindle promotional list a while back. I LOVED it! It was one of those books that you can't put down. The book is set around the time of the depression and follows a woman named Mary Margaret who has had a tragic life, losing her mother and being married off by her father at a young age. She's determined to make something of her life and escapes to California, where that determination serves her well. She reminds you of a phoenix rising from the ashes...tragedy continues to plague her, but rather than getting swamped down in a "woe is me" attitude, she keeps on keepin' on. (260 pages)

5)Fat,Forty,Fired: One Man's Frank,Funny,and Inspiring Account of Losing His Job and Finding His Life by Nigel Marsh. This is another book I picked up for free on the Kindle promotional list. It was worth reading and had a few good lessons in it, but overall, I didn't like it all that much. The author didn't exactly "lose his job", there was a merger and he turned down a different job in the company. A valid decision, but the "poor pitiful me" slant irked me. The family had to get rid of their nanny (oh no!), but still sent the kids to day care with both parents home. They had to fly coach on international trips (again, oh no!). Basically, the title makes it seem like this could be a good lesson on appreciating what you have, but this guy is completely out of touch with what normal people have. (288 pages)

6)Your Future Demands Greatness: A Soldier's Inheritance (Volume 1) by Jacob Roecker. I was contacted by this author and offered a free copy of the Kindle version of this book for review. I checked out the listing on Amazon and decided it was the type of book I would read on my own anyway, so I agreed. The book is fiction (that's hard to the time I got to the end, I actually had to go back and verify that) and follows a young man's trials and celebrations in military service through the letters his father is writing to him. Aside from when the dad mentions things that have been talked about between the two, you only see the father's point of view. That was probably what bothered me the most, I would've really liked to have seen the son's letters as well. There are also several grammatical mistakes, which tends to annoy me as a reader, but it does make the story seem more life like (how many of us always use correct grammar in letters.....or blog posts?). Within the letters are a lot of good nuggets on life. You see the type of life and family relationships that are sadly missing from much of society today. The main treasure of this book is that there are a lot of good lessons about building and maintaining relationships and building character. I don't have sons of my own, but many of these lessons are universal for women too and I would be happy to have my daughters read this book when they hit the teenage years. (182 pages)

7)The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Set in Civil Rights era Mississippi, this book is about a young white woman teaming up with black maids to right the story of what it's really like to be "the help". Equal parts hilarious and thought provoking, definitely a must read! (544 pages)

8)Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. This was a book club pick and I was dreading reading it. I don't like Lord of the Rings type books and this seemed exactly that kind of book. When I started reading, I wasn't very encouraged. It seemed 100 characters were introduced in the first 20 pages and everyone was running around in a castle and talking about kings, and BLAH...not my thing. But I stuck it out because it was for book club and by page 70, I was completely, hopelessly hooked. I can't begin to give a thorough summary, but the short story is that there is a king and other people who want to be king. There are honorable people and two faced people. Oh, and just as an aside, there are zombie-type things running around. Give it a try and promise yourself to get through the first 100 pages. If you don't like it by then, you probably won't. Chances are, you'll be sucked in and flying through 1000 page books though. (720 pages)

9)A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin. Still a great series! When I finished this one, I couldn't even go to bed for the night, I had to pick up the next book right away! (784 pages)

10)A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin. 3rd book in the series. This is where some parts got scary enough that I had to stop reading at night to avoid nightmares. Still a page turner though. (1008 pages)

11)A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin. 4th book in the series. My least favorite one so far. Still a good story, but not a page turner like the others were. Hoping it picks up again with the next book. (1104 pages)

12)A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin. 5th book in the series. The story picked up again with this one. I really enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. I wish the next book was coming out soon, I've been reading on message boards trying to find out what might happen in the next book! (1040 pages)

13)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling. Re-reading the series as part of my 101 in 1001 goals. (448 pages)

14)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling. (752 pages)

15)Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix by JK Rowling. (870 pages)

16)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling. (652 pages)

17)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. (784 pages)

18) The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning) by John Stephens. The children in this book are whisked away from their parents in the middle of the night and spent most of their childhood in orphanages. Until they end up in a place where they discover there is more to the world than they know and time is not quite as static as they've always believed. The book was a reasonably enjoyable beginning to a youth fantasy series, definitely a fun read on vacation or for tweens (417 pages)

19)Don't Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor. A friend loaned me this book after listening to me complain about Sedona not listening a few too many times. A lot of the principles in the book are explained in relation to animal training, but there are human examples throughout the book as well and the real focus is on reinforcers. Positive reinforcers and negative reinforcers and different techniques to deal with different types of situations. "Shooting the dog" just refers to removing the situation entirely. For instance, sending a kid to time out is "shooting the dog". Not that we never send Sedona to time out anymore, but we do mumble, "I know, I know, just shot the dog" when we do it! There is actually a lot of information here that is beneficial to dealing with people in, coworkers, employees, anyone who may be doing something to drive you crazy. It helps you look at how your own behavior may be influencing theirs. (224 pages)

20) Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider. I picked this up on the Kindle freebie list one day. The book goes through a step by step process to help you organize your house and day. There is an emphasis on simplicity in the sense that you choose to use your energy on things that are truly important to you and keep things around you that are useful or beautiful to you. I liked that the book spent time on discussing budgeting your time and that for the actual house organization part there was a step by step process, complete with check lists and reminders not to overload yourself with too much work at once. There are some helpful resources in the back, as well. (256 pages)

21)Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today by David Clark. This was another book I picked up on the Kindle freebies (and as of today, it's still free). This book goes through some major events in history and lays out the role microbes played in those events. There wasn't anything too terribly new that I hadn't at least heard a little bit about in here, but it was interesting reading nonetheless. If you're interested in history, this is definitely a book worth reading. (304 pages)

22)Stingray Bit My Nipple!: True Stories from Real Travelers edited by Erik Torkells. Just a collection of funny stories from different people's vacations. Good for lots of laughs! (224 pages)

23)Many Ways to Say I Love You: Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers. Who didn't love Mister Rogers? This books is broken into small, quick to read chunks that remind you that those kids running around are little people too. A little kindness and a little patience go a long way towards protecting their little souls. But sometimes we mess up, and it's okay to be patient and kind with ourselves too. (192 pages)

24)Pictures of the Mind: What the New Neuroscience Tells Us About Who We Are by Miriam Boleyn-Fitzgerald. This book is all about what activity is seen in the brain under different circumstances. It's really interesting to read about what shows up inside a fMRI machine when you ask people in different situations to think about different things. There are some really fascinating insights about what is actually happening inside a person's brain when they are depressed, anxious, addicted, enduring chronic pain, or happy and what activities might effectively re-wire our brains to work in a way that leads to us being happier. (208 pages)

1 comment:

One Acre Homestead said...

Jacob Roecker was Isabella's soccer coach! They are a great family & I think he's working on another book. I'd love to hear more about your views on Harry Potter...I read the first one and didn't enjoy it.


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