Books: January Edition

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Yes, it’s an autobiographical look at Cece Bell’s hearing loss as a child. But it’s more than that. It’s a smart graphic novel that includes topics of friendship, belonging, family, imagination, and standing up for yourself. Plus, it’s a 2015 Newbery Honor Book – deservedly awarded.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

I’ve never read anything about meditation or principles of the Buddhist faith, so this was an adventurous departure for me. While I have been a practitioner of yoga for several years, I have approached my practice with a Christian perspective – meditating on scripture and focusing on my breath (a reminder from Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”). And yet I still often struggle with a negative voice in my head and propensity to over-analyze decisions. These are a few of my take-aways from Harris’ book, which I’m already attempting to apply:

Acronym: RAIN
R: recognize = acknowledge my feelings
A: allow = lean into what’s concerning me, let it be
I: investigate = how is this affecting me/my body, take inventory
N: non-identification = just because I feel this way doesn’t mean this is a permanent state of mind/situation (p. 213-215)

Ask yourself, “Is this useful?…It’s okay to worry, plot, and plan…but only until it’s not useful anymore.” (p. 276)

“Acknowledging other people’s basic humanity is a remarkably effective way of shooing away the swarm of self-referential thoughts that buzz like gnats around our heads.” (p. 341)

See How They Run by Ally Carter

I’m a ginormous fan of young adult author Ally Carter.


You see, I’ve met her! Twice. Even if this weren’t the case, or if I hadn’t have had her autograph books for me and our Library’s youth collection, or have known that she is a local-ish author, I would still enjoy her books. (The aforementioned things are just the maple glaze on the cake donut.)

See How They Run is the second book in her Embassy Row series, to which I was granted a pre-publication e-galley from Edelweiss.  Secrets, family mysteries, lies, intrigue, and a strong female protagonist make for one exciting read!  Her other two series, Gallagher Girls and Heist Society, are equally as good as this currently developing one. Her teenage female protagonists are smart, brave, and surrounded by caring friends, her plots thick with intrigue, and content includes clean language and chaste romances. I continue to recommended her books time and time again.


The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

While I’ve heard of Jeeves and Wooster before, this was my first foray into this cozy mystery series. Earlier in the month I attended a book talk over this selection, which touched on how historical events or the time were not addressed in the stories, how class structure separates the characters, as well as the author’s prolific history. Overall, I enjoyed the quirky humor and silly characters and one passage I particularly enjoyed describes a police officer on his bicycle:

“…he was obviously off duty for the moment, and his whole attitude was that of a policeman with nothing on his mind but his helmet” (p. 82).

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

I was unfamiliar with this title until this year’s 2016 Printz Award was announced mid-January. My academic library didn’t have a copy (I’ve since ordered one), so I requested it via the local public library, which arrived in short order. I picked it up over a recent weekend and easily finished it within days. This young adult novel is a story of perception, persistence, community, family loyalty, love, plus a little bit of magic. And any book that includes bees and honey is always fascinating to me.


The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook by Ellen McCarthy

This has been on my TBR (to be read) list for over a year now, and after hearing positive comments via the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog, which I love, I requested it from interlibrary loan. Structured in the form of short essays, it was a quick read, but contained deep insights and advice into what makes marriage successful. I would recommend this to anyone entering into the covenant of marriage, or wanting an encouraging read around Valentine’s Day.

And lastly, this month I have also begun re-reading the Bible (last done so in 2011 & 2012), using this reading plan in the English Standard Version (ESV). The YouVersion Bible app on my phone has become invaluable in this process since it provides an audio narration for scripture. This allows me to listen to chapters as I’m fixing breakfast, cleaning the kitchen, or knitting, then I can consult the written Word if I want to underline or re-read anything again. I’m reminded of Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and active…” (NIV), and doubt the writer of Hebrews ever imagined how 2016 technology would continue to fulfill this passage when he wrote it almost 2,000 years ago.

Praise is His gracious choice. Alleluia! Amen!” ~ Come, Christians Join to Sing   Christian H. Bateman (1843)

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