Crunchy Gal

40 Books in 2013

I finished the year 12 books short of the goal I set.  40 books in 2013! This year I transitioned from a mom of a baby (he was 15 months as I started the year in Jan) to a mom with a baby and a toddler (a 2 year old and a 9 month as the year ended in Dec).  I had to create a challenge to myself to come up with my list of what I wanted to read.

Reading Challenge:

    • A best seller
    • A YA best seller
    • A book about a historical event
    • A book about mommyhood
    • A book about babies
    • A book about toddlers
    • A funny book by a comedian
    • A classic
    • A book that was made into a movie
    • A book to learn a new skill
    • A book about a book of the Bible
    • A book about Christian living
    • A book about healthy marriages
    • A book about being a wife
    • A book published in 2013
    • A book that is part of a series
    • A sappy girly book
    • A book about my passion
    • A book recommended by a friend
    • A book recommend by my spouse
    • A book I’ve read before
    • A book with a political tone
    • A book with a religious/moral tone

40 Books in 2013

I managed to work through this whole list and decided to write out each book I read, along with when I finished it and my personal rating.  All ratings are based on a 5 star system and the dates recorded are the dates I finished reading the book.  I had a lofting goal to read 52 books this year, but inn the midst of raising 2 under 2 for many months, I feel blessed that I found opportunities to read as much as I did.

Unplanned was by far the stand out for me.  Having always been pro-life, this book really pushed me even further to understand the sanctity of life, and have such a burden for those innocent babies destroyed when people play god with creating life and discarding life.
My second favorite was easily The Fault in Our Stars. I laughed and cried. I could not put it down. Portia de Rossi’s book, Reconstructing Amelia and Defending Jacob were also major standouts.  The biggest disappointment on my list was The Interestings.  It just did not impact me the way it did others, and I almost feel sad that the book was not quite the read others made it out to be….  The irony that I just couldn’t grasp why the book was interesting is not lost on me.

40 BOOKS:

1: No Easy Day by Mark Owen – My book with a political tone. Too military-ish for me…and only half the book is about the Osama raid/death.  But interesting nonetheless.  4 stars.  Jan. 2, 20132: The Racketeer by John Grisham.  My book recommended by my spouse. Loved the plot of this one!! So good!  Full disclosure – I’m a Grisham junkie. 🙂  5 stars. Jan 9, 20133: The Funny Thing Is… by Ellen Degeneres  –  My funny book by a comedian.  Did not record my review – but I think I remember it being not as funny as her first.  Jan. 12, 20134: Baby Proof by Emily Griffin – Her books are fast reads. I enjoyed the story – although very few women don’t actually want kids, and would take it this far.  4 stars.  Jan 18, 20135: A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks – My book I’ve read before. I read this years ago and wanted to revisit it.  Very different from the movie, I actually preferred the movie.  But this was a cute, easy, fast read. 4 stars. Jan. 21, 20136: Hot Six by Janet Evanovich – My book that is part of a series. Love this series.  Really like this one – with Ranger pursuing her now. 4 stars. Jan. 28, 20137. Defending Jacob by William Landay – This is my book that is a best seller.  I can see why this was so popular!  Surprise turns.  Love hearing the conflict/dialogue of Dad and the love for your child that creates blindness and an all-consuming/defending love. 5 stars.  Feb 12, 20138. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – My book that is a classic.  Yes, this is a classic to me!  There are no words.  This is a classic.  The stuff of my childhood.  The TV miniseries brought this book to life and did it justice in way I had imagined it would be.  But the book…. oh my heart just wants to sing even now at the way this book was crafted and the beautiful writing.  5 stars.  Feb 17, 2013

9: The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks – My sappy, girly book. Pretty boring, not as good as most of his other stuff, which I normally really enjoy even if it is Chick Lit.  2 stars.  Feb 21, 2013
10: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – A little to sexual for my taste. Not quite as good/mysterious as her newer books. Her writing has definitely improved since this first book.  4 stars.  March 1, 201311: Heart of the Matter by Emily Griffin – I’m drawn to her books since they are intriguing takes on topics and an easy, effortless read.  This one was an interesting back and forth and the toll cheating takes on all family members involved on both sides.  For some reason I didn’t remember to rate this.  March 2, 2013
12: The Baby Sleep Solution/Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: A Step-by-Step Plan for Baby Sleep Success by Suzy Giordano – Not sure I’d put my baby on this kind of schedule…plus I nurse and seldom use bottles. She says feed baby every 3-4 hours first 6 weeks (wake baby if need by first 4 weeks), 6-8 weeks let baby wake itself at night when hungry (don’t wake it at night). Weeks 8-12, feed every four hours a day for 12 hours (in crib/sleeping other 12), gradually eliminate night feedings (drop 2nd night time feeding first), nap in am and pm on a schedule.  3 stars.  March 16, 2013
13: Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic – An ok read.  A few helpful parts, but was actually hoping for more helpful hints.  3 stars.  March 18, 201314: Freedom Writers Diary by the Freedom Writers – My book about an actual historical event.   This sort of gets a double entry here – cause not only is this the actual diary’s entries, but lots of the book has to deal with Anne Frank and how her life impacted the students.  I saw the movie first.  I’m sure that is my problem.  In that regard, the book is a total disappointment. Moreover, the book was not at all reflective of how I have experienced inner city high schools in multiple states now.  1 star.  March 30, 2013
15: Seven Up by Janet Evanovich – The continuing story, but felt this one was kind of slow.  2 stars.  April 9, 201316: 52 Things Kids Need from a Mom by Angela Thomas – My book about mommyhood.  Loved this book.  One or two points I don’t completely agree with, but love this woman’s heart for her kids and raising them well.  5 stars.  May 5, 2103
17: The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy by Kim West – Was recommended by a friend who is also a play therapist/child psychologist.  This is helpful for getting kids to sleep = but still requires an element of CIO, using pacis, schedules, etc.  For my chaotic mind and rule-breaking self this doesn’t necessarily fit my lifestyle, but many of her principles are still helpful.  For many parents this book would be a great read to help their kids sleep through the night.  4 stars.  May 15, 201318: Taking Back Childhood by Nancy Carlsson-Paige – Overall, I agree with her premise.  Many of her side digs and her life philosophy I do not agree with, so the book was a skim read….sorting through things that are helpful to use with my kids and filtering out her bias/opinions.  2 stars.  May 22, 2013
19: Photoshop Elements 8 For Dummies – A book to about a new skill. Not as helpful or for “dummies” as I needed.  Still had to get a friend to help me understand the basics before I could use this book.  2 stars.  May 28, 2013  **updated picture to 14 edition (but my review is for the 8 edition – which shows you how long ago I read it!)20: The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You by Jessica Alba – A book about my passion. She tends to come off as a little over the top in regards to toxins (and I agree with her!), but she nails the realities of pregnancy and life with newborns. (The book is really geared toward that season/stage of life.)  Her writing style is pleasant, fun and easy to read.  I gleaned a few helpful hints.  Thought her style/makeup sections were a bit much, but really that might just be because fashion is not my thing.  Her book does come across as one big commercial for her company, too!  4 stars.  May 31, 2013
21: God’s Answers for Today’s Problems: Proverbs by Kay Arthur – My book about a book in the Bible. I like her studies but I do wish there was more reflection from the author.  3 stars.  June 3, 2013
22: Unplanned by Abby Johnson – A book with a religious/moral tone.  Phenomenal.   So gracious to both sides.  Grateful that she shared her story.  I could relate to her on so many levels.  Almost put the book down during the first chapter due to the harsh reality of what her job consisted of – but so glad I pushed through.  I cried, and laughed and really went on my own journey with this book.  5 stars. June 5, 2013
23: A Marriage Without Regrets by Kay Arthur – My book about healthy marriages.  Very good Bible study.  I bet the actual book would have been wonderful too, but enjoyed her study.  I like that it wasn’t as dry (missing commentary) as her precepts studies.  4 stars.  June 11, 2013
24: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – Could not put it down.  Lots of twists and turns, most I did not see coming.  I liked the incorporation of “facebook/texts”.  Covered so many issues: bullying, hard core mean girls, parenting (and the secrets teens keep).  The sexual issue was fairly predictable, but realistic in these affluent/private communities/schools.  5 stars.  June 15, 2013
25: Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi – There are no words for how good this was. I loved reading about her struggle with anorexia and bulimia. She nailed it from the perspective and insight as one who intimately struggled with those diseases. Such a cautionary tale for women, especially the unrealistic standards Hollywood is creating!  Wish every one of my youth kids who struggle with looks/false lies/anorexia/bulimia would read it. 5 stars.  June 25, 2013
26: The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle – My book about being a wife.  Best book I have read describing my particular behavior and how that plays out in my marriage. It totally nailed our dynamic and the struggle so many of my friends articulate exist in their marriage. I plan to buy this!!!  5 stars.  June 27, 2013
27: Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst – My book about Christian living. I really love Lysa’s writing. Great book. Really met me right where I’m at. She really understands the way women think/are wired. Am enjoying the Bible study guide, too.  4 Stars.  July 11, 2013
28: Unglued Participant’s Guide: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst – this is the study guide to go with the above book.  Everyone can learn how to better handle conflict and peacefully resolve situations.  This was a great workbook, but you will need the DVD.  It cannot really be done on its own.
29: 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker – My book recommended by a friend, in this case my best friend Kelly.  If you know me well, you already know I have a love/hate relationship with Jen Hatmaker.  But, I still find myself drawn to read her books.  I liked her easy style and the premise she puts forth about cutting down on consumerism, wants vs need, taking the Sabbath seriously. It seemed a little silly in parts, but she shows much more dedication to her projects then I do, while still giving herself grace. Four stars for the writing style, and causing me to continue to evaluate my concept of spending, wealth and true needs. She lost a star for overselling (IMO) all the companies/pet projects. Book has left me thinking, but not necessarily challenged. My past and my time on Young Life staff while working with inner city has already brought me to many of these conclusions and influenced the way I live my life, like Seven did for her.  4 stars.  July 18, 2013
30: Baby Read-Aloud Basics by Caroline Blakemore – My book about babies.  Not as helpful as I would have liked, but really helpful if you need ideas for good questions to engage little ones when reading to them.  Encourages reading to kids from birth, which is ideal.  I liked some of the helpful info/resources at the end.  3 stars.  July 26, 2013.31: Creative Correction by Lisa Welchel – This book is interesting.  While I appreciate her creative approaches to some situations and could see using a couple of her tips, overall this book is not very gentle and almost feels not very Christ-like/Christian.  I feel like some of her suggestions are rude and shaming and her corrections feel very punitive and not at all age appropriate.  1 Star.   July 30, 2013
32: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – My book published in 2013. Not very interesting at all.  Really boring story.  Just follows the daily/yearly normal things that happen to a group of friends over 40 years.  Skimmed pages.  Struggled to keep reading it.  Definitely underwhelmed compared to some people’s hype of this book!  1 star.  Aug 9, 2013
33: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – My YA best seller.  Fantastic.  I laughed, I cried, I couldn’t put it down.  5 stars.  Aug. 13, 2013
34: You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy – My book about toddlers. Great concepts.  Lots of helpful information, much of which I have picked up from working in childcare.  Very pro-play, free, imaginative learning vs. controlling curriculum until they are 1-2 grade.  I do not adhere to the Waldorf practices, which this book supports. 4 Stars.  Aug 15, 2013
35: Wonder by R.J. Palacio – Definitely written for the YA crowd, but I really enjoyed it. I liked how the different sections were from the perspective of the different kids. Really loved the character of August/Auggie.  4 stars.  Aug 20, 2013
36: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick – Thoroughly enjoyed, and was a quick and easy read. Doubt that the movie would live up to the writing.  Loved the character of Pat (and Tiffany) and their struggle with mental illness. 4 stars.  Aug 25, 2013
37: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman –  I loved this book.  The story telling device of telling it from different points of view, the description of the realities for the different characters and the heartbreak and grief from losing a child.  The resonating themes of the fierce love by a mom and the desire for her to have children, and the lengths one goes to is haunting. 5 Stars.  Sept 4, 201338: The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan – Book was different then I thought.  Some of the stories bored me.  Pace was slow.  Wish the stories had overlapped sooner, and been more connected.  2 stars.  Sept 28, 201339: The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days: A Novel by Ian Frazier – Not that funny.  I didn’t even give it any stars….not sure if it was cause it deserved 0 though, or if I just simply didn’t record my mark at the time.  Oct. 20, 2013

40: The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Fantastic!  Great story. Decent plot. Wonderful story-telling enjoyed the nuanced language. Loved the depth and richness of the main characters. Very gripping. Could not put it down.  This one surely I would have rated…seems like 5 stars.  I can recall vivid details even now and enjoy.  at least a 4 star book if not higher.  Dec. 31, 2013.  Phew what a whirlwind – I worked hard to get this one in before the end of the year. 🙂

So there you have it.  40 books in 2013.  What were your favorite books of the year? Any book in which you did not agree with my rating?   Which books did you love that I loved?

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