March Reading

 Remember how two years ago, I set a goal to read 50 books in a year and only got to 19? Or last year, when I wanted to read double of what I did the year before (which meant 38 books), and I only read 23? Well color me ridiculous because this year I only set a goal to read two chapters of a book on MOST days, and I’ve already 11 books this year. That translates to almost 4 a month so far!

Guess I was just focusing on the wrong thing all along.

As always, I’d love to hear your suggestions on what I should read next, or what you thought of these four books that I read this month (if you’ve had a chance to pick any of them up). Let’s talk about books!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

This book should come with a warning: Do NOT read this unless you want your life to be changed.

It really should, because this book has seriously changed my life forever. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is not only written by one of my favorite authors of our day (which means that the prose is incredible), but it is a true account of how she and her family decided to completely live off the land for one full year and only eat what they themselves had grown or raised or that someone they personally knew had grown or raised. This book presents a compelling argument for growing your own food when possible and for buying locally as much as you can.

After finishing this, I have been counting down the weeks until the local farmers’ market opens so that I can be a part of the local food movement that I greatly wish to support. It’s also largely due to this book that I was motivated enough to take on such a hefty garden plot this year for growing vegetables and that I’ve started buying organic whenever I can afford it. My life hasn’t been changed this much since reading Fast Food Nation back in 2008 (which made me not touch fast food for almost 3 years).

Seriously, if the topic of food interests you at all, you’ve got to check this out.

My Rating: 5 stars

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

For years, I have been slowly chipping away at this list of classics (I intend to read all of them in my lifetime), which is largely the reason I picked up this book in the first place.

The Color Purple is not for the fainthearted–it tells the story of Celie, a girl who was raped by her stepfather and fathered two children by him and then basically parceled off as a child bride to take care of her new husband’s children from a previous marriage. The novel is written as a series of letters that Celie writes, first addressed to God and then to her sister Nettie, who is serving as a missionary in Africa and who Celie longs to see again in her lifetime.

Although the language and adult themes were at times hard for me to get through, I’ll admit to tearing up at the end of this book. Even though this novel is not for everyone, I loved seeing Celie grow in her feelings of love and self-worth, and I was touched by the surprisingly heartwarming ending.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

I have been munching through Mere Christianity for a couple years now, and I will say this: this isn’t a book that you’re meant to go through at a sprint. Lewis’s ideas are thought-provoking and inspiring, and I often found myself pausing for long periods of time to meditate after reading just a paragraph or two.

Mere Christianity is Lewis’s logical argument for Christianity as a religion and as a daily practice–he not only deftly explains hefty principles that often trip up nonbelievers, but he also presents a manifesto of sorts for why traditional Christian values are the only things that can save society.

Seriously, this book is mind-blowing. Christian or not, everyone needs to read it.

My Rating: 5 stars

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

I read this book by accident. By that, I mean that I had had no plans of ever reading this book–in fact, I hadn’t even heard of it until about two weeks ago, when I was given a stack of about a dozen copies of it and told to assign some of my students to read it. Since I hate to recommend something to my students that I haven’t yet read myself, I started using my prep time to start working my way through it.

I finished it in 2 (school) days.

Pictures of Hollis Woods is the story of a young teenager who has spent much of her life in the foster system. She is known for running away without warning when she’s been in one place too long, and she feels like she’ll never fit in anywhere. Until, one day, she finds a family that actually wants to adopt her—and then screws it all up. This young adult novel is a story about finding your place in the world, and about how we should never let our past mistakes define our present selves.

Now I can comfortably say that I highly recommend it to my students.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

What have you been reading lately?

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