Archive for ‘books’

June 29, 2009

the brothers K

i’m not the best writer and don’t really know how to write a book review, but in any case i should’ve written this a week ago.  i hate that i’ve already forgotten so much about the book.

on the back cover of The Brothers K (by david james duncan), there is a quote that calls it “ambitious”.  it is that, to say the very least.  it is an extremely detailed, personal, enveloping story of an American family during the 1950’s/60’s/70’s as told by the youngest son, kinkaid.  papa is a warm, talented baseball pitcher with a seemingly bright future in the majors.  mama is a religious loving mother with a troubled past.  they have a quick romance, marry, and then bring forth 4 boys and twin girls (in that order). 

the story that kinkaid tells is one of simple life pleasures and complicated family hurts.  duncan’s character development is astounding, as he knows each of the 8 central characters unbelievably well….knowing even more than kinkaid (as a memeber of the family) could’ve known, had he been real.  duncan follows each character’s involvement in the story’s themes which always seem to have something to do with church/God, baseball, and, well, family.

duncan successfully draws many emotions out of the reader (at least he did out of me): happiness, anger, relief, hurt&despair, confusion, triumph, and even fright.  thanks to his outstanding knowledge of each character, and of the details of the times and places in which they live, the book feels like a really really good movie.  the title is derived from “The Brother Karamazov”, a classic novel by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  i’m embarrassed to say i’ve never read it, but from what i’ve read about it, Duncan was definitely highly influenced by it.  (Wikipedia says that “The Brothers Karamazov” portrays a patricide in which each of the murdered man’s sons share varying degrees of complicity. On a deeper level, it is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, reason, free will and modern Russia.  This is definitely extremely similar to the story kinkaid tells.)  however, i think that by naming the book “The Brothers K”, Duncan was referring to the fact that the boys’ father was a long-time baseball pitcher.  “K” in baseball is the character used when a batter strikes out, which, for a pitcher, is a good thing.

like i said before, i don’t know how to write a book review, but i wanted to write something about this book because I LOVED IT and i want everyone i know to read it and love it too!  it does contain some language and some brief sexual references, but much of the story is about 4 teenaged boys, so i thought it was just authentic.

now go get it and start reading!!

June 21, 2009

sunday night

we got home today around 1:00.  i’m planning on uploading pictures and writing part 3 of my trip journal tomorrow.  just put both girls to bed and i’m planning on reading for the rest of the night…this book is incredible and i am so close to finishing it!

April 23, 2009

the year of living biblically

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible  by A.J. Jacobs

i first heard of TYOLB when a.j. jacobs was on the cover of relevant magazine two years ago.  the second i saw the title i remember thinking that i wanted to read the book.  when i found out that a.j. isn’t a christian it made me want to read it even more.  my little sister gave it to me last year for my 30th birthday.  i started it in january and JUST finally finished it on our way home from texas 10 days ago (it’s pretty average these days for me to take a few months to finish a book…sadly).

anyway, a.j. jacobs is agnostic.  i didn’t even really understand what that was before i read this.  (if you don’t know either: an agnostic is basically someone who believes in some sort of higher power, but isn’t sure or doesn’t care exactly what that higher power is.)  the fact that he isn’t a christian made this book even more enjoyable for me.  it was refreshing to hear about the bible from someone a) who’d never read it and b) really didn’t understand what he was getting himself into. 

when i started the book, i had a hint that it might turn out to be sacreligious.  not true.  there is no mocking tone whatsoever.  jacobs does not believe that the bible is inspired by god, but shows great respect to the men who wrote it and the words it contains.  he takes 4 weeks to read the bible and then throughout his year is constantly trying to soak in more and more knowledge about it.  he reads many many other books and commentaries and even sets up a “board of advisors” of people from different sects of biblical faith (orthodox and non jews, conservative and liberal christians, etc).  he also goes on several trips throughout his year to get a closer look at many aspects of the bible (my favorites were: the creation museum, a snake-handler’s church, and an amish farm).

he spends 3/4 of the year in the old testament, since that’s the largest half of the bible and the portion with the most laws.  i won’t try to list all of the hundreds of laws he follows, but many of them fall under the categories of food, clothing, and the ten commandments.  jacobs is jewish by heritage and he makes it fun to watch him learn about “his people” in this way.  at first he feels awkward about everything, but after a few months, many laws become habit to him.  he forces himself to pray, which is very mechanical at first, but toward the end of the year, he catches himself doing “reflex” praying instead of just standing in the corner of his office with his eyes closed.  he follows the sabbath and comes to appreciate the beauty of truly taking a day off.

he has a harder time when he gets to the new testament because many of the o.t. laws are thrown out the window when jesus steps into the picture (thank you lord!).  it was funny to read about him trying to follow “laws” that aren’t really there.  many of his spiritual advisors tried to explain to him that the things jesus talked about are usually practiced out of a desire to please God and improve your relationship with Him after you’ve accepted Christ as your saviour.  it was cool how he began to see how following Jesus’s teachings affected his life and the lives of people around him. 

jacobs’ account of this year of his life is honest and endearing.  the book is a great balance of contemplation, humor, and education (i’ve been around the bible my whole life and i learned many things i never knew).  of course, the whole time i was rooting for him to get to the new testament and realize that he needs jesus, but i know that was alot to ask.  i highly recommend it.

March 30, 2009

truth be told

i’ve been thinking alot lately about honesty.

i pride myself on being honest…sometimes to a fault.  i just feel that if you care about someone, you should respect them enough to tell them the truth even if it might be awkward sometimes.  i don’t follow the rule religiously…i’m not a rude person, so if i’ve just met someone, or if it’s someone i know is in a fragile state, i’m careful.  i cannot stand it when people are fake or “polite” just for the sake of avoiding tension.  

i’ve had two different situations come up recently where i had good reason to lie, but i didn’t.  did i hurt feelings?  maybe initially, but i’m confident that in each situation my friend was appreciative of my being up front with them.  in both situations it was hard to tell them how i was really feeling, and i thought hard about doing it, but i still feel like it’s what i should’ve done.

i’m halfway through “The Year of Biblical Living” by A.J. Jacobs.  it’s a GREAT book but i’s taking me forever to read.  anyway, in the middle of one of my dilemmas, i read this passage about his wife running into an old friend while they were at a restaurant:

“Julie Schoenberg?” says the ponytailed woman. 

It’s an acquaintance Julie hasn’t seen since college.  Hugs are exchanged, compliments toward babies are extended, spouses introduced, mutual friends discussed. 

At the end of the meal, we get our check, and Julie’s friend says: “We should all get together and have a playdate sometime.”

“Absolutely,” says Julie.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I say.

Julie’s friend laughs nervously, not sure what to make of that.

Julie glares at me.

“You guys seem nice,” I say.  “But I don’t really want new friends right now.  So I think I’ll take a pass.” 

A few weeks ago, I read a book called Radical Honesty, which was about telling the truth in all situations.  It talks about the scary thrill of total candor, the Six Flags-worthy adrenaline rush.  I felt that.  I heard myself saying the words, but they seemed unreal, like I was in an off-Broadway production.

Julie is not glaring at me anymore.  She’s too angry to look in my direction.

“It’s just that I don’t have enough time to see our old friends, so I don’t want to overcommit,” I say, shrugging.  Hoping to take the edge off, I add: “Just being honest.”

“Well, I’d love to see you,” says Julie.  “A.J. can stay home.” 

i dont’ know that i can go this far, but it sure makes me think about how life would be if i were totally honest all the time.

so, how about you, kind post reader?  how honest are you?  also, would you prefer someone be totally honest with you or would you just like them to be “nice”?  have you ever been non-appreciative of someone’s honesty?

“In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery.”  Proverbs 28:23

February 4, 2009


if you have kids, especially kids who like books, use this one as an excuse to look at some really cool art.  we got it at the library last week in a book-on-cd kit and the illustrations are SO COOL.  the story is cute, too, but i cannot stop looking at the pictures. (While Mama Had a Quick Little Chat by Amy Reichert)

anyone have any other unique kids’ books to recommend?  i’m not impressed by some of the old favorites (i.e. Goodnight Moon, Love Me Forever).  harper is into dr. seuss lately and i am, however, still impressed with those.  all of them.

May 22, 2008

“Don’t make me count to three…”

i just started this book by ginger plowman.  it’s actually my second time starting it…the first time i read a few chapters and then the book got shoved under my bed and i forgot about it.  my sweet sister-in-law julie gave it to me last year.  i am usually REALLY bad at reading books with no plot or “story”…in other words, i very rarely can read books containing instruction or inspiration for our daily lives (except for the Bible…all the others seem super boring for some reason).  so far i’m really enjoying it.  plowman is obviously someone with a great sense of humor and doesn’t at all come across as “holier than thou”.  the basic idea of the book is that we should train the hearts of our children through biblical teaching, instead of just correcting them when they do wrong.  in other words, we should explain to them why what they did was a mistake, draw out the issues of a sinful heart, and explain to them how the matter could’ve been handled differently.  so far i’ve been really challenged to memorize scripture, because it obviously can be a great tool when trying to “instruct”.  i’m just about halfway through, so i’ll try to remember to do a full review when i finish, but so far i highly recommend it.  she has referenced several other Godly authors and this is an excerpt that i thought was really smart (written by tedd tripp, it has to do with what to do when two children are fighting over the same toy):

” ‘Who had it first?’ is an issue of justice.  Justice operates in the favor of the child who has the quicker draw in getting the toy to begin with.   If we look at this situation in terms of the heart, the issues change.  Both children are displaying hardness of heart.  Both are being selfish.  Both chilren are saying, ‘ I don’t care about your happiness.  I am only concerned about myself.  I want this toy.  I will have it and be happy regardless of what that means to you.’   In terms of issues of the heart, you have two sinning children.  Two children preferring themselves to the other.  Two children who are breaking God’s law.”


March 28, 2008

books i’ve read so far this year…

my so-called new year’s resolution this year was to try to read more (specifically to try to be in bed by 9:00 every night to read).  i’ve been slacking lately but was doing pretty well for awhile there.  i’ve been trying (very unsuccessfully) since January to figure out how to get a list of books up on my sidebar.  i want to make a list of all the books I’ve read this year and figure my blog is the best place to put it, but I can’t figure it out, so here’s the list.  (If you know how to put in on the sidebar, could you please comment and let me know?)

PS) I am terrible at reading non-fiction, so don’t expect to see alot of that on my list.  The only non-fiction book I’ve read this year is a pregnancy book that i just read out of a few times a month to check up on what crazy stuff is going on inside my baby factory.

Christy by Catherine Marshall…  it takes a few chapters to get used to the style of writing – she writes exactly how the characters would speak (with a serious mountain people accent).  the copy i read had kellie martin (from the mini-series) on the cover and i have to admit that i really did picture her a christy the whole time i was reading the book.  i cried my eyes out several times while reading this book.

A Long Way Gone: Memiors of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah…  i really enjoyed this book.  it was hard to read, as would be expected, but was very well-written and gave great perspective that you probably couldn’t get just from watching a movie (ex: blood diamond).

Child of the Jungle: The true story of a girl caught between two worlds by Sabine Kuegler…  this book is an auto-biography about a little girl whose family leaves their home in germany to go live with an extremely isolated indian tribe in what is now papau new guinea.  they literally live in a house that her dad built in a jungle only accessible by boat or helicoptor.  the jungle was sabine’s home for 12 (?) years starting when she was only 5 years old.  she gives a very thorough interesting picture of what it was like to live with this desolate tribe (explains different customs and beliefs, tells funny stories of cultural mix-ups, and talks all about how she spent her days wandering through the jungle with a bow & arrow).  she eventually moves back to Europe to go to high school and spends much of her 20’s very confused about who she is and where she belongs.  i really enjoyed it.

But Enough About Me: A Jersey girl’s unlikely adventures among the absurdly famous by Jancee Dunn…  this book is hilarious.  i laughed out loud at least once a night when i was reading it.  not long after she graduated from college, jancee (who constantly cracks on herself and her family for being from jersey) got a random interview at rolling stone and landed the job.  she eventually became a go-to girl for big celebrity interviews.  she tells some great stories not only about meeting celebrities, but also about her dating life, friendships, and general feelings about life.  this is not a christian book.  there is cursing and alcohol and drug use, but i couldn’t put it down.

i feel like i’m leaving one out, but that’s my list so far.  i just started The Last Sin-Eater by Francine Rivers (one of my favorite authors), so i’ll let you know how i like it.

okay so it’s been about 15 minutes since i posted this…i was eating a bowl of raisin bran and realized that auto-biographies are technically non-fiction, so nix what i said at the beginning.  i guess what i meant was that i’m no good at reading self-help books or books about the characteristics of god or something.  i wish i was better at it…i really do.

September 22, 2007


for the past 3 or 4 months, i’ve been reading Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner.  no, i’m not a really slow reader, and no, it’s not a really long book, but it takes me forever to get through a book since i don’t have a whole lot of time to myself to read.  i’m nearing the end (finally).  this morning i read half of a chapter and could so relate to it that i wanted to mention it here.  i seriously feel like my life has been one giant blessing….thus the title of this blog.  i have NO concept as to why the Lord has given/taught/loved me so much…  Winner summed it up for me:

 “I couldn’t believe what God had done for me, and I was grateful to my toenails….I was struck by the gaping gulch between perfect God and fallen me, and I was stunned with thankfulness that, though i was small and sinful, God, in His graciousness, saw fit to draw me near to Him anyway.”