TLF Book Club: Summer 2017

SUMMER 2017

Fall is officially here, and as much as back to school season certainly inspires more in the way of scholarly activity, I spent the summer months reading some great stuff, too.

For some reason I felt like I hadn’t done too much reading this summer, but I guess I was wrong… seven new books! I’m definitely still on track to complete my goal of reading 25 books this year, and considering I fell short last year, I think that’s pretty awesome!

If I’m being completely honest (and you know I am), I haven’t actually finished the last three on this list yet, but I will soon, and then it’s off to numbers 22-25. I can do it!

(15) New York Notorious by Paul Schwartzman and Rob Polner

NotoriousAs I mentioned in an earlier post, and to remain forthcoming, the main reason I read this one was in support of one of the authors, who I work with. After our annual team-building exercises, everyone was feeling full of love and support, and for some that included handing out copies of their work.

Luckily, this turned out to be a quick read that was both entertaining and informative, especially for someone with as deep a love of New York City as I do.

The book is a collection of true crime stories sorted by areas of the city (including the outer boroughs). While I do wish the stories had gone into further detail, it was fun to read about the city’s criminal past and consider all the places I’ve visited that were included.

(16) #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso

GirlbossI said it before and I’ll say it again: my biggest regret in regards to this book was that I watched the Netflix series before reading it. I normally love Britt Robertson (Life Unexpected, anyone?), but the character of Sophia was just so unlikable to me!

And unfortunately, that tainted my entire book-reading experience.

What I imagine should have been a very girl-power-you-can-do-anything kind of book was read through a lens of arrogance and entitlement… especially in light of Nasty Gal’s bankruptcy filing just last year.

If you are planning on picking up this book, try to do so with no preconceptions. (Sorry if I just ruined that for you…)

(17) Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven

BedYou know at Hallmark, they have those little hard cover books with titles like “You Got This,” “She Believed She Could,” and “Shine On, Beautiful Soul” (all real titles)?

This reminded me of one of those.

This quick read expanded from Admiral William H. McRaven’s University of Texas 2014 Commencement Speech took less than 24 hours to get through.

With chapter titles like “Failure Can Make You Stronger” and “Rise to the Occasion,” there’s enough encouragement to go around and the kind of advice you may have heard from your grandmother growing up but always bears repeating.

(18) Winter in the Blood by James Welch

BloodReading this entire book was like an exercise in endurance. While it’s supposed to be this incredible piece of writing from Native American author James Welch, I truthfully spent most of the book waiting for something to happen.

I powered through for my in-office book club, but guess what? Nothing. Ever. Happened. Much of the book felt like a dream with time jumps and an unnamed narrator dealing with his own grief.

While there are some interesting insights on lives of Native Americans in Montana, I think perhaps I was missing some of the history it would take to truly appreciate this book. As such, I came away from the finished book without much more than I started with.

(19) Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

Discerning I became a Christian fairly young, at the age of 12. At that time, my mom had really just made us start going to church with her after no real religious affiliation before that besides being baptized as a baby to satisfy my grandmothers’ Catholic background.

Since then, I’d like to think that I’ve grown quite a bit in my faith, but, you know, life. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the general goings-on of life and to get distracted from the messages God is trying to send you.

I was feeling  a little stuck, and this book has been a great reminder that it’s completely normal to be challenged by noise drowning out that “still, small voice.”

(20) Love-Powered Parenting by Tom & Chaundel Holladay

ParentingQuite often, Christian parenting books can be a little corny, setting unrealistic expectations on parents and depicting unattainable perfection as the norm.

I can happily say, for the most part, that has not been the case with this book.

The chapters are short and meant to be read one a day, five days a week, over the course of several weeks, and they talk about everything from discipline to anxiety.

I did find it a little off-putting that the bulk of the writing was done by the father, with just a tiny blurb at the end of each chapter from the mother. Nothing against dads, but I could have used more of mom’s perspective.

(21) A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Moscow

While I have yet to finish this one, I am happy to report that this next book club pick has made up for the last one.

In this novel, Towles transports us to The Metropol, a famed Moscow hotel where the narrator has been placed under house arrest. It follows him as he adjusts to his new life, meeting interesting people and going on adventures exploring his new home.

Like I said, I haven’t finished this one yet, but I’m really enjoying it so far. The entertaining story is a great cover for what is really a lesson in Russian history. Well done, Amor Towles. Well done.

It’s almost time to start making my reading list for 2018 (crazy, I know!). While I don’t usually stick strictly to my list, I like having some kind of outline to work from. So, do YOU have any suggestions for me? It can be anything from your favorite work of Chick Lit (not my fave name of a genre, but you know what I mean) to a guide to mastering social media to your go-to devotional book.

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