May Stack

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Over the winter and spring I didn't make a single reading list for myself! Sometimes it's nice to choose one or two books at a time and see where they take you. I stayed in my comfort zone with some non-fiction, some memoir, a handful of mysteries, a bunch of historical fiction, and a few classics.

I've already started putting together my Summer Stack which led me to put together a stack just for May. It looks like I'm in the mood for more nonfiction this month! As always, I'll be sure to post my thoughts on each book after I've read it!

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan // This book is a collection of essays that were compiled after Marina's death. There is an intro from one of her teachers, an essay that made her famous, a fiction section, and then a non fiction section. Marina's style of writing is raw, honest, unguarded, and even a little brutal. I skipped around, leaving quite a bit of her fiction and some of her non-fiction unread. 

If you're a writer, you might find this book inspiring. Know that parts of it might shock you a little bit and that some of the content is real-life at its finest. Marina didn't hold anything back. (May 3, 2015)

From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg // This YA book has become a classic among 4th Graders for multiple generations. That being said, I made it to this point in my life without even hearing of Konigsburg. This story of two kids who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is just about as exciting as their adventure sounds!

I enjoyed Konigsburg's style. She included details and struggles that kept me on my toes, but didn't shy away from writing up a mystery for the children to solve. My favorite thing about this book were the bits of wisdom that I'm confident are what has caused parents and teachers to put this book into the hands of their children since it was first published. (May 27, 2015)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt // I'm nearly 400 pages into this 700+ page book and I've already made up my mind about it! Tartt wrote a strong beginning that sucked me right in. I'm really eager to find out what becomes of Theo and the famous painting. I'll be honest, there is WAY too much language in this book. It started out with a bunch of jr high age boys fumbling to use the language and then progressed to the point where I just started skipping entire chunks of the story. I'm really not sure why Tartt felt the need to drag the story out so long, but I'm going to stick this one out!  UPDATE: I ended up sticking with it for 100 or so more pages and then abandoning it.

My favorite parts are when Theo and Hobie are together in New York. The language stops and the city takes center stage. I know everyone has read this book, but I think you can safely cross it off your list without digging in. It's one of those books that's really not all that good. (May 13, 2015)

From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover // I ended up taking my time to read this book! Hoover had so many things to say. Sometimes she was a little bit repetitive for my tastes, but there were so many places where she came back around and summarized what she had been saying in one POWERFUL sentence. Those sentences kept me excited to read more!

A few times (especially in chapter 8), I wasn't sure that I agreed with what Hoover was communicating. There is a great danger in taking grace too far and forgetting obedience. I'm confident that she was not advocating that extreme, but sometimes it came across that way. Again, her summary really helped to clarify her intentions: "In other words, we must live in responsible freedom, not taking advantaging of God's grace by living for ourselves, not mocking grace through blatant sin and taking opportunities for our flesh, and not taking lightly the impact we have on others around us...Grace grants us the ability to not force ourselves onto others or to set law-imitating standards of behavior for people, because we believe God is powerful, God will act, and God will convict. Our Conqueror goes before us, and his Spirit can change hearts." p. 166-167

Overall, this book gets three stars. If you've been struggling with a gospel that is not rooted in or centered on Christ, it might be just the book you need to read. (June 26, 2015)

Death Wears A Beauty Mask and Other Stories by Mary Higgins Clark // I especially enjoyed reading "Death Wears A Beauty Mask" because I was really interested to see how she decided to finish writing it 40 years later. "Stowaway" (the first piece she ever sold) showed how much her style has changed and grown into something more mature. Anything Mary Higgins Clark is my favorite and this collection of short stories did not disappoint! (May 19, 2015)

Called by Ryan Pemberton // I'm struggling between whether to give this book 3 stars (I "liked it") and 4 stars (I "REALLY liked it"). I pretty much devoured it and couldn't stop talking about it and took the time to write out quotes from it that I wanted to remember. All of those things usually mean that a book is going to end up with 5 stars. BUT...As I moved into the last half of the book I was finding that he seemed to be repeating himself. There were even entire sentences sprinkled here and there that I had already read in a different part of the book.

I loved the stories about CS Lewis (I learned some pretty hilarious stories about his wife Joy and her shotgun as well as Lewis's sense of humor when it came to teasing Americans about their useless ways of saying things) and the ways that BEING in Oxford made a difference in Pemberton's life. I was challenged right along with Pemberton as I read about his struggle to realize that being called by God always means being called to truly follow Christ. If you pick up the book you'll most likely have the same thoughts that I had, but that won't change the fact that you're glad you read it! (June 3, 2015)

What's on your reading list this month?

What's the last book that you finished and LOVED?


  1. The E.L. Klonisburg book was one of the first books my parents purchased from a school book sale that I really, really loved. I still have that book in a book bag I made in 7th grade. ;) I get it out to read to my kids. Now I'll have to read it to the grandchildren when they get older.

    Can you tell me the title of the WWII book you read and posted on instagram a while back? I thought I had put it on hold at the library, but it's not on my list. Thanks!

  2. Oh the Mixed Up Files...! My 4th grade teacher gave all of us that book for Christmas. It was cute. I enjoyed a little book last month called Seriously, Mum, What's an Alpaca?

  3. I felt the same way about the goldfinch. I personally think that book is about 100 pages too long but a super good store for the most part. Excited to try out some of those other books you mentioned!

  4. I felt the same way about The Goldfinch. I did NOT like it. I couldn't empathize with the main character when he was making so many awful decisions and going with the craziest people. I couldn't find any redemptive qualities about the books (and why sooooo long?!?) But some friends loved it - I guess it's just one of those polarizing stories! (stopping by from the MMD link up!)

  5. I think I would really love The Opposite of Loneliness!
    I think the best book I've read in the last month is definitely "The Signature of All Things." It is absolutely the most well written book I've read in the past year!

  6. I've been wanting to read The Opposite of Loneliness! It's been on my list for a while. I just finished The Chaperone and it was... okay. The first half was really interesting, but the end dragged on way too long and just ended up kind of depressing me.

  7. I've been meaning to check out The Opposite of Loneliness! I think I would find it interesting too!


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