Book Year in Review

I (Julie) always thought I’d be able to read a lot when I became a stay-at-home mom and then finished school. Sadly, that’s not the case. I usually get interrupted roughly every 45 seconds. But I have managed to read a few books this past year. Here’s a little review for those book-lovers out there.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly  By Anthondy Bourdain

I got less than 2 chapters into it before I returned it to the Library. Nasty in language and context. A must-NOT read.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible  By A.J. Jacobs

This book was fantastically creative and funny. The author is Jewish but never really lived his, or any other, religion. He decided to read the bible and follow the hundreds of laws contained therein. He captures your attention from the first paragraph and never lets it go. Hilarious. I laughed out loud on almost every page.

The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World  By A.J. Jacobs

I thought the first book I read was so great that I immediately read his other book. This time, his quest is to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in a year. When I was in elementary school, I was often found reading our encyclopedias for fun at home. So this topic really appealed to me. He again made me laugh through the entire thing. He’s very engaging. If you want a couple of really fun books, here they are.

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History  By John M. Barry

I first saw this book in the airport a few years ago and was intrigued, seeing that I’d never even heard of the deadliest pandemic in history. I’m not sure how that one slipped by. This book is very involved and covers not just the story of the influenza, but the back-story and all that was going on in the U.S. and world at the time. It’s not really a quick read, as it gets into a lot of scientific detail, but I did learn a lot.

F5: Devastation, Survival, and the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the 20th Century  By Mark Levine

Pretty interesting, but it wasn’t really my style of reading. The author continually jumped between individual accounts to create a whole account of one night’s outbreak of 148 tornados across the central United States. I will say this, I’ll never hear about another town being hit by a tornado without thinking more about the terror that those poor people lived through.

The Ghost Mountain Boys: Their Epic March and the Terrifying Battle for New Guinea—The Forgotten War of the South Pacific  By James Campbell

I picked up this book for Rob, but I ended up reading it instead. I’ve always enjoyed learning about World War II but don’t know near as much as I probably should. This book was interesting in that I learned how much suffering these soldiers endured for no credit. I wouldn’t highly recommend it, I didn’t think the author did a fabulous job wrapping things up. I kept thinking there was going to be something else, but it just ended without any closure. Maybe that was the point. I’m not sure. 

Geography: A Textbook

I’m still reading an old Geography textbook I bought at a used book sale. I love reading about people and places, even though it’s not a very fast read. I got a little impatient and started reading other books, but I will keep going back to this until it’s finished.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder  By Richard Louv

This is the book I’m currently working on. I find it very fascinating. The author talks about all the benefits (physically, socially, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and mentally) of children having free-play out in nature. I’ve always believed that being outside was good for the soul; I can feel it whenever I sit in the sun or feel the breeze or play in the dirt with the kids. We can all feel our mood improve and we feel closer to our Heavenly Father when we’re among his creations. This book is a little detailed and somewhat repetitive, but a great book for anyone, especially parents.

Wow! I’ve read a lot more than I had realized! I currently have 7 other books on my list, but as you may have noticed, every book I read is non-fiction. I have a hard time (okay, REALLY hard time) reading something that is made up. Rob and I have discussed this at great length since he loves fiction, but I just don’t get it. Why read something that’s unreal when you can read interesting and amazing TRUE stories? I’m sure I’m missing out on something, but I’m not sure what. Rob says creativity, character development and involvement, and fun.

Here’s the question for all you serious literary minds out there, some of which have never commented here before (We both know who you are!). The last fictional book I read was a decade ago. It was The Grapes of Wrath and I hated it. I’m willing to give it another try, though. 

SO…what fiction book should I read???

A few caveats: It MUST be well-written, intelligent, thought-provoking, and interesting. Something that will make me second-guess my current view of novels.

For all of you who do enjoy reading novels, please don’t take this post to be a knock against you. It’s all about personal taste and I really do feel like I may be missing out on something, that’s why I’m asking for suggestions and/or comments.



12 thoughts on “Book Year in Review

  1. I found your blog through google, but it's interesting because I've read and liked many of the same books as you. Plus I'm an LDS mom too. Weird coincidence.

    AS far as non-fiction, I really liked “Fifty Acres and A Poodle” (by Jeanne Marie Laskas). And “Tender at the Bone” (by Ruth Reichl) Both are on my top 10 list.

  2. anonymous is gene russell, joseph came by just as i was finishing and clicked something and there you go.

  3. The last 7 boks i read were star trek novels (go figure) but before that i picked up an abridged version of Moby Dick. I thought that classics meant hard to read and boring so i was pleasantly surpised by the readablity and also the humor. It is really funny. There were a lot of times when i would laugh out loud. Anyway there you go.

  4. Pete is also a non-fiction fan – you should compare lists sometimes. I'll suggest in the fiction category – A Fine Balance. I hated to put it down and I hated when it was over. Someone else said The Giver, and that is a great book plus it's a young adult so it goes quick and lends itself to be able to get right back into it when you do get interupted. (I have both if you want to borrow either one.)

  5. I am also a “Non-fiction” reader. So was your Granddad and I believe your Dad is also. I know
    your Granddad would have loved reading the “Ghost Mountain Boys”. I think that I will be
    looking for that book next. I am reading “Inside the Criminal Mind” right now. I almost have
    a library with books from the spirit world. I think people that read fiction are romantic
    types. Nothing wrong with that. Maria.

  6. One more quick sidenote: Dan and I have been listening to this financial CD called The Millionaire Next Door. In their studies they found that the average millionaire reads at least one (or was it two?) non fiction books a month. So you’re off to a good start! 🙂

  7. Oh Julie, I have a mile long list of great fiction books I could give you. For someone like you I’d recommend anything by Ann Rinaldi. Granted, she’s a young adult author, but she’s a terrific writer (which I like because I can read a good book quickly that way!). Her books are all historical fiction, and she incorporates so many accurate events from history that it would be easier for you to take, I think. Currently I’m reading the unabridged version of Les Miserables. I think you’d do well with that one, too. It’s fiction, but goes through whole segments of the book with the historical aspects of the era- wars, conditions of people in France at that time, etc. I think you’d really enjoy that, too. And again, it’s well written. I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that for now. (For a good non-fiction read, have you read Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng? It’s a must-read!)

  8. Interesting! Both Dad and I only like non-fiction for the same reasons you stated. If I have the time to read, I want to learn something.

  9. I do agree with Rob. I enjoy a good fiction. My favorite author is Mary Higgins Clark, she writes suspense novels. But I do have a non-fiction recommendation- Manhunt: the 12 day search for Lincoln’s killer.(sorry, can’t recall the author) It does take time to read, but I never knew so much about the assination of Lincoln.

  10. You have to read “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Housseini.
    It is one of my all-time favorite novels. I absolutely love that book.
    Some young adult great fiction novels are:
    “The Giver”, and “To Kill a Mocking Bird”. I love both of these books as well.
    Thanks for the book ideas though. I love to read and am always looking for suggestions.

  11. Okay, so that is a very intimidating list. But, if you are look for something that is just fun, read Harry Potter. I know cliche, but I really resisted the book for a LONG time, and I really love it. Also, a fun one I just started to read by a local author, it is called the 13th Reality. Well written, has puzzles to solve and it very different as well. Anyway, I read for fun, Eric reads non-fiction as well, and I have not yet convinced him to read fiction.

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