Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

My Library Shelf Update (#1 & #2)

On October 18, 2019, I returned to the Unger Public Library in Plainview and selected another library shelf for my reading project. I had completed most of the books on the previous shelf and the remaining books were rather offensive to my reading palette. So rather than force myself to read things that I had such a distaste for, I opted to simply find another shelf. The new shelf contains 29 books and covers authors in the POI – PRA range. I was only familiar with the two classics contained on the shelf.

I began my reading with the first volume of a 5 book science fiction series, The Long Earth by Terry Pritchett and Stephen Baxter. The novel was certainly out of my normal comfort zone and not something I would typically read on my own. However, it was a fun departure and I enjoyed Pritchett’s writing style. There are several of his books (outside of the series) on the list. I’m looking forward to exploring more of what he has to offer.

Then it was time to pull a treasured paperback from my home library and read the next book from My Library Shelf. I returned to My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok and immediately recalled why I first fell in love with this novel while at Pepperdine. The exploration of the intersection of faith and art is compelling and in many ways parallels my personal struggles, especially as it relates to dealing with family who simply do not understand my art and the sacrifices it requires. I’ve probably spent more hours interacting with Potok’s text than I should have this week, but I simply could not put the book down! I need to process the text a little more before launching into the other Potok novel on My Library Shelf – The Gift of Asher Lev. I have a feeling that will be part of my Christmas break reading.

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The Whispering Muse (Sjon)

Under normal circumstances, I probably would not have picked up this book at all. However, several years ago after first relocating to West Texas, I embarked on a journey that I refer to as My Library Shelf. The concept is very simple at its core. Following a few guidelines that I had established (no more than a certain number of books by the same author and at least one classic novel), I selected a random shelf in my local library with the intention to read through all of the books housed there on that day. As a result, I have encountered some charming novels that I would have never read on my own. I don’t read exclusively from My Library Shelf; rather, I return to it when I simply don’t know what I want to read at the moment. With my busy schedule, the size of the novella was appealing. Unfortunately, that was one of the few things I enjoyed about the book.

The Whispering Muse is an Icelandic novella that tells the story of Caeneus, the second mate on an ocean freighter, transporting paper to India. Caeneus’ tale is tied up in the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. I have never been a fan of mythology and could not get past the unbelievable plot with its many twists and turns. The only reason I continued reading The Whispering Muse was because I wanted to mark it off of my list. Turning the last page and realizing I was done was the best part of my experience with this novella. Now, on to something else that I will hopefully enjoy more!

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18th Abduction (James Patterson)

It was time for me to return to the stories of The Women’s Murder Club and I am so glad that I did. In this installment, Lindsey and the other women are attempting to find three young prep school teachers who have been kidnapped without a trace. Meanwhile, Lindsey’s husband, Joe, encounters of survivor of the Bosnian genocide who is convinced that she has seen the face of one of the soldiers on the streets of San Francisco who killed her husband and young son and held her captive in a rape hotel.

Is it possible that the two cases are intertwined? When the war criminal is discovered, it becomes necessary to catch him in a crime in order to see him deported and forced to stand before the ICC to answer for the horrors he has brought on so many. The first of the teachers is found dead in a rent-by-the-hour hotel….and Lindsey and the SFPD know that they are racing against the clock to save the other women.

Just when you thought you could easily predict exactly how Patterson’s novels would unfold, you encounter a brand new world in 18th Abduction. And this reader could not be more pleased with the outcome!

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True Colors (Kristin Hannah)

I continue returning to Kristin Hannah’s novels and I continue to be impressed. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary novelists and her book True Colors is probably the best book I have read this year. It is packed with unexpected plot twists, wonderfully developed characters, and themes that are extremely relevant to our society today.

True Colors follows the lives of three adult sisters who continue to struggle with their identity after their Mother’s untimely death in their childhood. Trying to balance their personal lives with the issues related to being a family while caring for their father and the family ranch proves to be too much at times. After a string of undependable ranch hands, the girls hire a stranger passing through town who appears to be capable, but there is also an air of mystery, intrigue, and danger surrounding him.

The new cowboy is Dallas Raintree, a Native American. The girls’ father immediately demands that the no-good man be fired before he brings trouble to the family ranch. Dallas begins to flirt with one of the sisters; they fall madly in love and marry. Dallas’ reputation in the close-knit community, however, does not improve with his marriage.

When a local woman is murdered, Dallas is the obvious suspect. He is arrested, tried and convicted despite his assertions of his innocence. His young wife uses her limited resources to have the sentence overturned with no success. As she struggles to come to terms with her situation, she also struggles to raise the couple’s young son who acts out with violence and rebellion.

Is Dallas guilty of murder? Can a tattered family be reunited despite opposing views? Does anyone care to look beyond their preconceived ideas about an individual based solely on their appearance and actually search for truth? All of these questions are raised and answered beautifully in True Colors. The reader will laugh, cry, and gasp while experiencing the highs and lows of life in this quiet northwestern town where animals are cared for, people live at a slower pace, and everyone is given the chance to let their True Colors shine through.

A must read for everyone! You will not be disappointed.

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After Anna (Lisa Scottoline)

B541AFA0-9FB7-4998-8FFA-424D18EB8E33I finally managed to finish a novel this week! It’s an exciting accomplishment to say the least. This time, the novel was Lisa Scottoline’s After Anna. This gripping family drama tells the story of Noah, a pediatric allergist, and his wife, Maggie. Maggie lost custody of her infant daughter after her powerful ex-husband had her declared unfit. An unexpected call reunites Maggie with Anna, her long-lost daughter. Anna moves into Maggie and Noah’s home in hopes of beginning a new family.

Things do not go smoothly for the family. As the novel opens, the reader finds Noah on trial for the murder of Anna. When the prosecution’s witness reveals that Anna had accused Noah of sexual abuse while she lived in his home, Noah’s fate seems to be sealed. As Maggie deals with her own grief over the loss of her daughter and her marriage, she receives another disturbing phone call. Just when you think you know where Scottoline’s story line is headed, an unexpected twist lands in your lap, making After Anna an enjoyable read from start to its dramatic finish.

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The Weekly View From My Reading Chair (Feb 8)

This may be a very short update. Why? Because there’s nothing to share. Since my last post on this site, I haven’t cracked a book. I’ve not read a single sentence for pleasure. Nothing, Nada.

It wasn’t intentional. It just happened. Last Sunday, I found myself on the road headed to El Paso with a colleague and friend for a few days of intense recruitment. There’s was absolutely no time to read during the day as we zipped from one school to another. When we had a break, we were normally checking in on students at home and checking our email. By the time we got to the hotel each night, we were ready to collapse and simply enjoy some downtime. Besides, there was WAY TOO MUCH LAUGHING for any reading to go on. I tried to read a short chapter as we were preparing to return home, but I simply could not focus my thoughts for a single moment.

I wish I could say that things will change in the new week, but I seriously doubt it. On Tuesday, I’ll head to San Antonio with the same friend and colleague to man the recruiting booth at TMEA again this year. (I’m so glad Anthony and I get along so well and don’t have to worry about spending so much time with him!) The hall is always noisy and there’s lots to talk about as we are visited by students, alumni, colleagues, friends, and recruits. There’s just not going to be much time to do any reading…and I’m perfectly okay with that.

I may try to do a little reading over the weekend, or I might decide for the less intellectual option and watch some mindless television. Either way, I know that my books will be there waiting for me when I get the opportunity to return to them. Besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

Until next time…..enjoy the view from your own reading chair this week.

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The View From My Reading Chair (Feb 2)

Nausea returned to my world on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I didn’t get much accomplished at all! That included my reading life. I want to read, I just don’t feel as though I have enough time to dive into a book other than my Bible at the moment.

Here’s the low-down on the tiny bit of reading I did get done this week:

Clash of Crowns (George Martin) – 381/728 — 17 pages this week.

Frederic Chopin (Alan Walker) – 381-671 – 0 pages this week.

Year of Yes (Shonda Rhimes) – 35/240 – 35 pages this week.

Yep…..that’s a grand total of a whopping 52 pages of personal reading this week. Ugh! I’m headed to El Paso for a few days in the upcoming week with a colleague for work. I’m hoping that I can get back into a normal reading routine while I’m there….but we will just have to see how that goes. In the meantime, I hope that you are enjoying a little quite time — however small it may be — in your own reading chair. Happy reading!

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In This Moment (Karen Kingsbury)

This week, my reading focus changed significantly. I needed a break from serious biography and the war-torn fantasy world of the Starks and dragons. The announcement that my local library was finally a member of an ebook consortium served as the perfect means for feeding my reading shift. While I carried around the biography and saw Clash of Kings sitting next to my reading chair, this week I returned to visit the Baxter family I grew to love a couple of years ago and read Karen Kingsbury’s In This Moment.

In This Moment features Luke Baxter as our hero, a lawyer specializing in religious freedom cases. When the principal of Hamilton High begins a voluntary after-school Bible study group, positive results are noticeable immediately. Attendance and test scores improve. Gang violence and other crime rates plummet to an all-time low. Hamilton High is no longer a hopeless void that is sitting on the verge of being shut down. More importantly, students’ lives are being changed as they come to know more about Jesus and begin a personal faith journey with their new-found Savior.

To celebrate the club’s first anniversary, the principal decides it is time to share the facts about the after school program with the parents of his students. Reaction is mixed, but it appears as though things will be fine for the school and its principal. All of that changes in a moment when a single father of one of the school’s students is furious over his daughter’s involvement. He blames Christianity for the failure of his marriage and his wife’s unfaithfulness, so he makes it his personal mission to destroy the faith — starting with the local after-school Bible study.

In This Moment is an excellent examination of religious freedom in the United States, the societal opinions about modern Christianity, and the courage required to stand firmly for your beliefs when faced with challenges that could result in the loss of your career, security, and everything you hold dear. In This Moment was a little more than just a great story for me. I found myself thinking about what I would do in a similar situation. Would I be willing to risk everything for the cause of Christ? This is a story that I won’t soon forget.

In the coming week, I plan to get back to Clash of Kings and Alan Walker’s Chopin biography (although I did manage to start reading Shonda Rhimes’ memoir Year of Yes and am fascinated with I’m seeing there). But this week, I took a detour and am very glad that I did!

For those who are following the statistics, here was the View From My Reading Chair for the week ending on January 26, 2019:

  • In This Moment (Karen Kingsbury) 254/254 – FINISHED! 192 pages this week
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The View from My Reading Chair (Jan 18)

The semester finally got under way this week. There has been a lot to do and I haven’t really felt as though I had lots of time to read. I do need to mention, however, that I am reading a LOT of Scripture at the moment. I decided to tackle the Horner reading system this year — 10 chapters each day. I’ve been at it for nearly a month and have completed the 10 chapters on most days….and really enjoying the process. That reading is not reflected here because I do not consider my daily reading of Scripture as “pleasure reading.”

Another change this week was the announcement that my local library finally joined the e-book consortium, so I can easily access digital books — and for me, those are always fluff reads — so I’ve added a third book to my routine late this week. Karen Kingsbury’s In These Moments has grabbed my heart from the outset, so I’ve devoted a little more reading time there in the past few days than I have my other books.

Enough explanations…..here’s the statistics from this week.

Clash of Kings (George R.R. Martin) 364/728 = 65 pages this week.

Fryderyk Chopin (Alan Walker) 381/671 = 40 pages this week.

In These Moments (Karen Kingsbury) 62/254 = 62 pages this week.

That brings my reading total for the week to 167 pages.

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The Weekly View from My Reading Chair (Jan 12)

Life has been incredibly busy this week. I traveled back to west Texas and had meetings and office work at the end of the week to prepare for the beginning of the Spring semester. Needless to say, I did not get a lot of reading done, so I can’t tell you much about my progress except where I am in the books. Hopefully next week will see me spending more time in my reading chair!

Clash of Kings (George R.R. Martin) – 299/728 pages (47 pages this week).

Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times (Alan Walker) – 341/671 pages (62 pages this week).

Total pages read this week: 109 pages (down 17 pages from last week).

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