September & October Reading

Since I only finished one book in September, I decided to combine all my reading for the last two months together. I think this smattering of books is the perfect example of how totally random my interests are–I’m basically all over the place, which is actually kind of helpful considering that I’m usually in the middle of several books simultaneously. (You see, if my books were TOO similar to each other, there’s no way I could read more than one at the same time.)

This collection of reads also goes to show how much I’m influenced by what I hear or see—if I saw the movie and loved it, I have to read the book, If every magazine is talking about the latest novel, I have to pick it up so I won’t feel left out. It’s like I have the world’s worst case of FOMO—but with books.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Anyone who has seriously considered becoming a writer has probably heard of this well-known volume on writing tips and hints. I personally have toyed with really trying to be a serious writer for years, but I’ve found that writing—as in running—often requires exorbitant amounts of daily motivation through textual material for me to continue forward. I’ll say this though—the book must have done something to my brain because the very afternoon I started it, I found myself sitting at the computer and typing out 2-3 pages of “real,” non-blog writing, which is something I hadn’t done in years.

If you’re wanting to hone your writing skills or just need an extra push to explore your creative self, this is a great book to pick up.

My Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Cleanliness Rating: There’s quite a bit of strong language in this book, so tread carefully.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

I’d heard about this book long before the movie came out, but I’ll admit that I didn’t pick it up until after I’d seen the film. Since I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed so hard during a movie, I just knew I HAD to read the book, so Matt was obliging enough to pick me up a copy for my birthday.

Although the writing was far from impressive, the storyline was pure candy—a Jane-Austen obsessed woman goes to a resort in England that is made to help you get the “authentic Austen experience,” and she finds true love. What’s not to like?

My Rating: 3 stars
Clean? Quite. Apart from some awkward almost-sexual-references, this book is about as clean of a modern book written for adults as they come.

Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott

When I was in 6th or 7th grade, I picked up this book and found myself delighted with the story of the four March sisters (largely because in my family, there were four of us girls). I remember loving the first half of the book, but as soon as the girls all started falling in love and getting married and all that nonsense, I was so bored that I simply couldn’t pick the thing up again.

Until this year, that is.

It’s funny how life changes our opinions about things. Of course, it DOES help that I could relate to the characters since I’m married myself. But my enjoyment of the book went far beyond just enjoying a projection of my own experiences in a fictional account—I loved how utterly WHOLESOME the book was; it’s so hard these days to find a book that preaches and practices virtuous conduct in the characters, and I was delighted to see the four sisters as they progressed from self-centered girls to strong women. If you are a woman and haven’t checked out this treasure, you’d best get on it quick.

My Rating: 4 stars
Cleanliness: Squeaky

Cooked by Michael Pollan

Ever since I read In Defense of Food by Pollan earlier this year and had my life changed because of it, I’ve been a big fan of Pollan’s blend of journalism, research, and personal experience. So, when I found out that he’d recently published this book that explored the history of cooking and how cooking in general affects society, I knew I had to give it a go.

Although parts of it were more fascinating to me than others, I was overall very pleased with the book as a whole. I even picked up some awesome cooking advice along the way (and stuff I would rarely find in general cookbooks, too). And even Matt was pleased I’d read it because it meant that I started chopping onions and tomatoes much more finely than I used to after learning about their purpose in culinary dishes. (Matt hates being able to detect the texture of vegetables at all.)

The parts that talked about Pollan’s personal experiences flew by, but some of the research parts did get pretty slow, so consider yourself warned.

My Rating: 4 stars
Cleanliness: I don’t really remember, so that must mean it wasn’t too bad…

Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

In the book Born to Run (which I read earlier this year), the author hailed Scott Jurek as one of the greatest ultra-runners of all time. After reading this account of his life and experiences with ultrarunning, I can see why—

This guy is a masochist.

I’ll say this—I definitely admire someone with as much drive as Jurek. Not only does he regularly run marathon-length distances for fun and win many of the 50- or 100-mile races he enters, he does it all eating entirely vegan. I’ve looked into vegan eating (not as a serious lifestyle, but I like making the recipes), and most running experts say that a vegan diet is not ideal for runners since it is so generally low on protein. However, Jurek blows all that talk to pieces as he proved time and time again that the human body won’t just survive on a vegan diet—-it can thrive.

If nothing else, this book definitely got me off my lazy butt multiple times to go out and run since I figured that if Jurek could pump out 15-25 miles a day, I surely could churn out 4 or 5.

My Rating: 4 stars
Cleanliness? There is some strong language throughout this book.

Are you a random reader? Or do you tend to prefer the same “type” of book?

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