Monday Confessions, Recent Reads in Fiction

     Well friends, I promised a recent reads in fiction post after my lengthy post about non-fiction. I have gone through phases in my life of reading a lot and other phases where I hardly read a thing, unless I had to. I recently heard a saying though, "readers are leaders" or maybe it was "leaders are readers," but either way it applies. I find that when I am in a constant reading pattern, even if just for entertainment, it keeps my brain functioning more efficiently. I find that the more I read, the better I express myself in language both in writing and speech. I recently joked on social media if it would be a big nerd move to just ask for books for Christmas?

Here are some thoughts on my recent reads...

What Alice Forgot, By Liane Moriarty - I really enjoyed this read. It was easy to get through but made me think. The premise is that the main character, Alice, wakes up after a bad head bump and doesn't remember the last ten years of her life. It got me to thinking, if I didn't remember the last decade, I wouldn't know my kids or barely know what marriage is all about. It was a charming and thoughtful read, true to Liane Moriarty's style. She has a way of keeping you interested and not doing anything too expected in her tales. (I also liked her book Big Little Lies, which I believe will also be a movie soon). 

Stern Men, By Elizabeth Gilbert - If I am being honest here, I had to make myself finish this one. I find myself really pushing through a book when I don't attach to any characters. If I don't find characters relatable or redeemable, I tend to get disenchanted by the book. I really like Liz Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) but this one just wasn't worth it for me. It had bits of dark subject matter and just felt sort of depressing. If you like Liz Gilbert though, check out her recent podcast called Magic Lessons. It's an exploration of creative living, which was the topic of her bestselling book, Big Magic. I've listened to first few episodes and really have enjoyed them. Hint: episode two was Liz interviewing Cheryl Strayed, the writer of Wild (another great memoir). The interview explored creativity and motherhood interestingly enough. (There is occasional foul language in the podcast, giving it the explicit label but I assure you in the few I listened to I did not hear much.)

Keeping Faith, By Jodi Picoult - I have mixed feelings about this one really. I sometimes love Jody Picoult's writing and other times I find myself skimming because I feel like the story drags. The one was gave me those mixed feelings. It was an exploration of ideas of faith, as well as human relationships being tested. The thread woven through was a mother's persistent love, which so many of us can relate to. In the end, I wouldn't necessarily categorize it as "must read" but it was an interesting enough story.

After You, By Jojo Moyes - If you liked Louisa Clark in Me Before You, then you will still love her in this sequel. It is hard to imagine what Louisa face where Me Before You left off (no spoilers here.) I found myself cheering Louisa on as she searched for what was next in her life. It's hard to really say much without spoiling Me Before You, but I liked this sequel. It helps answer a few questions as to what happened with some characters down the road. 


Back in non-fiction land, the Magnolia Story officially comes out Tuesday! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. I read the first chapter over the summer as treat for those that pre-ordered. It was charming as well as hilarious, much like Chip & Joanne themselves.

Recent Reads, memoirs and non-fiction

 It's so hot in Delaware right now it feels like the surface of the sun. Ok I maybe exaggerate, but seriously, it's hot. Here's today's heat index is literally over 100. In this heat, you really only have two options. Option one is to stay in the air conditioning at all times. Freezer aisle anyone?! Option two is to sit in or by a body of water, such as a pool, lake, ocean or otherwise. Both of those options lend themselves to some reading, which is just what I've been doing.  When gathering my book list as of late, I realized that I had too many for one post if I could actually expect you to read it, so I will post later this week on fiction reads! Here's a run down of some of the non-fictions reads I've finished from spring through summer.

American Wife by Taya Kyle - I had previously read and really enjoyed Chris Kyle's memoir, American Sniper. Through reading that and also seeing the movie, I thought I might enjoy hearing his wife's perspective. In all honesty though, it was hard for me to pick this up to read knowing how it ended for Chris. It still seems so senseless and crazy to me that in all Chris endured during war, that he was gunned down by a mentally ill man that he was trying to help. All that aside, I liked reading her side of things but it was hard at times. I think if anything, both this book and her husband's book reminded me just how much we need to be thankful for those that serve in the military and their families. As Chris would've said, they chose that life, but it still costs them something above and beyond just a job.

Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson - I really enjoyed this read as fodder for parenting. Korie writes about the value of instilling character traits into your kids that you want them to have as adults. We can't just say we want our children to be these things, we need to show them. We need to parent in a way that allows them to exercise character traits like being strong and kind.  Korie's family growing up would take a list on vacation that has written out all of their family's values and rules. For example, their number one was, "Actions have consequences: you reap what you sow. What you do, does affect others.'I am responsible.'" I love that idea, although we have not formally created our list yet, it has given me something to think about. 

Food by Jim Gaffigan - I picked up this book with a sincere need to laugh. Sometimes life feels heavy or things feel out of control, but reading this book was a good way to get a giggle and remember not to take yourself too seriously. The chapter on eating vegetables alone had me in tears. I now have my family relating the taste of kale to bug spray, thanks to Jim.

Dad is fat by Jim Gaffigan - I realized that I was reading Jim's books out of the order he wrote but this book is his take on parenting a large family. I could relate to many things he joked about, such as the sheer noise level in a house with 4/5 kids or the intricate game of musical beds that happened every night trying to get all the kids asleep in their respective rooms. It was a funny, fast, easy read that I would totally read again!

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey - I guess I was on a comedy kick because I read this around the same time as the Jim Gaffigan books. I don't know if it was the proximity to growing up in Philly or what but as I laughed, I totally understood the nuances of her childhood tales. The chapter on her dad, Don Fey, might have been my favorite. Although she's a bit older than me, I could definitely relate to some things about growing up as a strong female, aka "bossy." Most girls could relate to other sentiments she shared, like how boys paid more attention to her when she was thinner than seasons when she was thicker. There were definitely some language and precarious situations she found herself in, but overall it's another fun, light read that will make you laugh.

Hope Heals by Katherine and Jay Wolf - Swing the pendulum far to the other side of light, funny reads to this beautiful but heavy memoir on suffering and God's grace. I first saw Katherine speak on a snippet from If:Gathering earlier this year. I knew this was a lady I wanted to hear more from. I wept, laughed and generally just felt convicted while reading this book. It's a beautiful story about hardship, suffering and what God can do in the middle of it all. I just passed it to a friend and I think I will be most likely buying and sharing it with others along the way. If you don't have time to grab the book yet, check out Katherine's interview on Jamie Ivey's Happy Hour podcast that I also love! 

Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What's Right in Front of Me by Alexandra Kuykendall - I tore through this book on my last couple days of vacation with Matt. I think it's combination of perfect timing in my life to read this and just the fresh way she approached every day issues for mamas. Alex gives good perspective on how to tackle issues in our every day lives to help us gain more enjoyment from our days. I had some big take aways that I am still working on but one of them was cutting out noise in my life. I have 4 kids, so some noise in unavoidable but it's the "noise" like social media that I need to get rid of. I had already locked my phone in the safe on our resort most days on our trip and I LOVED it. (I had my phone out on this particular day for a while because Matt was off on a fishing adventure and we would eventually need to reconnect). Not having my phone for days, except when I actually needed it, was a huge push to keep that lifestyle going when I got home. I have been docking it when I am at home and doing FAR LESS Facebook and such. It's been so good for my head and heart. We let so much noise seep in when we don't even realize it. Alex writes that when we get rid of some of that excess noise, we realize how much God is there in our every day moments when we make space to actually hear from him. I could honestly probably write a whole post on life applications from this book but I will spare you. If you are a mama raising young kids and trying to live a life of faith, grab this book. You'll be glad you did! (Alex also did an interview with Jamie Ivey on the Happy Hour podcast).

Lovable Livable Home by Sherry Petersilk - I needed some home inspiration and I love the couple from the Young House Love blog.  I used to love decorating and doing this around my house but parenting small children has almost wiped me of my will to live on some days, much less worrying about my house. They break things, spill things and generally ruing whatever you own. I try to keep a nice home but I thought that this book might inspire me to make some small, realistic updates when I get some time. I haven't read cover to cover but have been browsing it in sections. They have practical helps and tips as well as lovely photos! It makes a cute coffee table book that I can pick up and put down easily. 

 I have a stash of things I want to read and the list is always growing! What am I in the middle of reading?

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist ( I might finish this today, Shauna is my favorite!)

Wild and Free by Jess Conolly and Hayley Morgan (Been reading in chunks)

Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow (Also been reading in chunks because I feel so convicted)

Radiant by Marian Jordan (I read this with some friends but have a few chapters left. It's a little slow and I need to convince myself to finish it but I will if my friends do ;)

And if you didn't read For the Love when it came out last year... seriously buy it. Jen Hatmaker is both real and hilarious in her observations on life and faith.  If you haven't pre-ordered Joanna & Chip Gaines' Magnolia Story, it comes out in October so you have time. I got to read the first chapter electronically because I pre-ordered it as a gift. I was laughing and feeling all the feels as I read their first date story. I can't wait to read the rest this fall!