Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#3: One Summer (David Baldacci)

One Summer started out as a book that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go.  The novel tells the story of a young couple with three children facing a harsh reality.  The father, a veteran, has a terminal disease and is expecting to die at any moment.  In a cruel turn of events, his wife is in a tragic car accident, leaving her husband and children behind.

Baldacci’s writing in the first half of the novel is splendid.  The father’s struggle to accept his own approaching death, feelings of helplessness as his children are relocated with family around the country, and his triumphant return to health are powerfully crafted.  Once the family is reunited and settle for the summer in South Carolina, the novel seemed to lose some of its forward momentum and drive.

What I had hoped would be an inviting, heart-felt novel turned out to be a lazy beach read.  I’m no worse for the wear, but my life is no better for reading it either.

My rating:  2.5 out of 5.

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#2: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (Tom Franklin)

The bar for quality reading this year has been set very high!  Tom Franklin’s novel tells the story of two men, Larry and Silas, who grew up together in southeastern Mississippi.  Silas is a black boy; Larry is white. As they grow, their lives take different paths.

Years ago, a young girl suddenly disappeared after going on a date with Larry.  Everyone assumes that Larry was responsible for her disappearance and death, but he was never tried due to a lack of evidence.  Now another girl has gone missing and Larry is the prime suspect.  Silas has returned to the deep South as a police officer in the small town, investigating the kidnapping.

Is Larry a monster or a misunderstood introvert?  Does Silas know more about the situation than he is telling?  

The novel is a fascinating read with lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way.  Be advised, dear reader, that the book is intended for a mature audience and includes vulgarity throughout.  (If you are easily offended by language, this may not be the book for you.)

My review:  4 1/2 out of 5……incredible story, wonderful writing and engrossing.


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#1: Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit (Charles Swindoll)

The first book of the year!  I selected this book as preparation for an upcoming class I will be teaching this summer and honestly didn’t have high expectations.  Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only was the biography well-written and thoroughly researched, it also provided insightful commentary and connections to modern day life.  This 6th volume of Swindoll’s “Great Lives from God’s Word” series definitely made a believer out of me.  I will probably pick up the other volumes in the series eventually.

Here’s one of my favorite passages that came near the end of the work:

I [Swindoll] was reading to Cynthia [his wife] from Sports Illustrated about a 90-year-old basketball scout that still does work for the Detroit Pistons.  That’s right — the man is ninety years old!  He still gets on a plane, checks those prospects out, and brings back a reliable report.  I love it!  He said he flew past sixty-two without even a thought of retirement.  Strong determination.

I read somewhere, “We wonder at the anatomical perfection of a da Vinci painting.  But we forget that Leonardo da Vinci on one occasion drew a thousand hands.”  Leonardo possessed that same strong determination Paul modeled in Rome.  Thomas Edison came up with the modern light bulb after a thousand failed attempts.  By the man’s own admission, it was mainly strong determination that gave the incandescent light to the world, not an inventor’s creative genius.

But we’re not talking about college athletes or persistent, brilliant inventors.  We’re talking about being a determined servant of Christ.  There’s no easy route to spiritual maturity.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  Remember, it’s a grueling journey at times.  So, don’t bother to publish a pamphlet on all the obstacles you face.  Don’t become famous for complaining.  The apostle says, “Forget the past; reach for the tape.  Keep running.”  Develop and maintain an attitude of strong determination.  (Swindoll, 310-311)

My score for this book:  4 out of 5.

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2011’s Completed Reading List

I’m happy to say that I moved closer to my goal, reading 31 books during the year.  Here’s the list:

1.  Rorey’s Secret by Leisha Kelly – 1/5/11

2.  Called Out of Darkness by Anne Rice – 1/11/11

3.  The Confession (Audio) by John Grisham – 1/12/11

4.  The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard – 1/17/11

5.  Warriors Don’t Cry:  A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Intergrate Little Rock’s Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals – 1/27/11

6.  Room by Emma Donoghue – 2/5/11

7.  Churched:  One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess by Matthew Paul Turner – 2/10/11

8.  Soar by Kenny Luck – 3/4/11

9.  Hallelujah Junction:  Composing an American Life by John Adams – 3/17/11

10.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – 4/3/11

11.  The Chasm:  A Journey to the Edge of Life by Randy Alcorn – 4/21/11

12.  Hate List by Jennifer Brown – 5/12/11

13.  Sundays at Tiffany’s (Audio) by James Patterson – 5/23/11

14.  The Secret Between Us (Audio) by Barbara Delinsky – 5/27/11

15.  Amazing Grace (Audio) by Danielle Steel – 6/4/11

16.  The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson – 6/18/11

17.  Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult – 7/7/11

18.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett – 7/1611

19.  Why Mahler?  How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed Our World by Norma Lebrecht – 7/23/11

20.  Hard Times by Charles Dickens – 8/2/11

21.  Glory:  Experiencing the Atmosphere of Heaven by Ruth Ward Heflin – 8/5/11

22.  The Maze Runner by James Dashner – 8/28/11

23.  Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch – 9/4/11

24.  Kramer Versus Kramer by Avery Corman – 9/10/11

25.  The Distant Hours by Kate Morton – 9/24/11

26.  Haydn by Vernon Gotwals – 10/3/11

27.  Forgotten God:  Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan – 10/10/11

28.  Left Neglected by Lisa Genova – 10/14/11

29.  One Day, All Children by Wendy Kopp – 10/19/11

30.  The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry – 12/18/11

31.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – 12/29/11

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2010’s Reading Record

The first year that I kept a record of the books I read was 2010.  For the sake of consistency, here is the list of books I read that year:

1.  Redefining Children’s Ministry in the 21st Century:  A Call for Radical Change by Becky Fischer – 1/5/10

2.  The Concubine’s Daughter by Pai Kit Fai – 1/15/10

3.  The Unmotivated Child:  Helping Your Underachiever Become a Successful Student by Natalie Rathvon – 1/21/10

4.  The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty – 2/4/10

5.  Basketball Jones by E. Lynn Harris – 2/9/10

6.  Still Alice by Lisa Genova – 2/24/10

7.  The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis – 2/28/10

8.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – 3/5/10

9.  House Rules by Jodi Picoult – 3/18/10

10.  The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis – 3/27/10

11.  Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow – 4/5/10

12.  Higher Hope by Robert Whitlow – 5/6/10

13.  Look Again by Lisa Scottoline – 5/25/10

14.  The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom – 5/30/10

15.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Audio) by Mary Ann Shaffer – 6/2/10

16.  Greater Love by Robert Whitlow – 6/13/10

17.  The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose – 6/24/10

18.  Broken on the Back Row by Sandy Patty – 7/13/10

19.  Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg – 7/20/10

20.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender – 8/2/10

21.  American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld – 9/30/10

22.  Every Last One by Anna Quindlen – 10/9/10

23.  The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – 11/10/10

24.  The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult – 11/21/10

25.  The Choice (Audio) by Nicholas Sparks – 12/10/10

26.  The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber – 12/18/10

27.  Cast of Characters by Max Lucado – 12/22/10

28.  The Real Mary:  Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus by Scot McKnight – 12/26/10

29.  My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveria – 12/31/10

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How it all began….

Several years ago, I read Pat William’s book Read for Your Life:  11 Ways to Transform Your Life With Books and was fascinated with the basic premise.  Williams recounts how his personal goal each year is to read a book each week.  That challenge resonated with me and I took it on.  I have not yet achieved the lofty goal, but I’m having a blast pursuing a more active reading life.

Part of the fun has been keeping track of the books that I have read.  Some of the books have been reviewed on my blog Livin’ Life.  For the sake of keeping everything separate, I have decided to move those reviews over to this location.  Hopefully, there will be a new review coming later today!

Happy reading!


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