It’s been a few weeks since I shared what I’ve been reading, but here I am: trying to stay caught up! Fiction has been hard for me lately and I’ve abandoned several books that are getting a lot of buzz, despite trying really hard to like them. But pushing through a book that I’m not enjoying always wreaks havoc on my reading mojo, so I’m letting go of those books and moving on.

Fiction

Jack by Marilynne Robinson
“I’m a simple man who was brought up by a complicated man. So I have mannerisms and so on. Vocabulary. People can be misled.”

This was my second effort with Jack. I love the Gilead series and was so excited to read a story that focused solely on Jack, who is one of the most complicated and tragic characters in American literature. I had a really hard time getting into this in print, but I jumped at the opportunity for the audio version when I saw there was no wait on Libby.

This tells how Jack and Della’s relationship began. Biracial marriages were illegal back then and it was dangerous for them to even be together. I’m still not sure why Della chose to “marry” him nor do I understand Jack’s psyche. If anything, I’m even more impatient with him than I was before.

This book is full of beautiful sentences and staggering thoughts, but I found it much slower and harder to sink into than the first three in the series. Because of this, I’m only giving it 3 stars. But if anyone was disappointed in the print version, I’d encourage you to try the audio version – the narrator is excellent and sometimes it helps to simply be told a story.

Non-Fiction

The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

I wrote a lot about this book in a recent blog post. I still agree that this is the best book on meditation and mindfulness that I’ve read. It’s full of practical (yes, practical!) advice for practicing mindfulness in your everyday life, whether you’re a business person with a packed daily schedule or a harried stay at home mom. When we’re able to find meaning in what we do, peace and joy follows.


Savor by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lillian Cheung
“As you will see, mindfulness practice does not need to be another “add-on.” Its beauty lies in the fact that it can be fully and easily integrated into every act of our daily living, reminding us to live the present moment fully.”

This was my morning contemplative read after finishing The Miracle of Mindfulness and I have to say – it wasn’t super helpful. Many of the mindfulness exercises were also included in the previous book so a lot of the Buddhist perspective felt repetitive. And the health perspective was common sense information that most of us are familiar with. And still – the reminders are all helpful and – hopefully – I can finally start the process of mindful eating! I’ll be leaving this in my nearby Little Free Library for a neighbor to find.

Poetry

WHEREAS by Layli Long Soldier
“WHEREAS I sipped winter water cold-steeped in pine needles, I could taste it for days afterward, I taste it now. When I woke alone gray curtains burned in sunrise and down my throat to the pit, a tincture of those green needles changed me. When should I recount detail, when’s it too much?”

I learned about this poet from an episode of On Being. She’s a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, a mother, and a teacher. This book of poetry has two main parts: the first includes poetry about being a mother, words, and poetry itself. The second half of the book is a response to the 2009 “apology” from the US to Native Americans for the colonization of this country. Of course, both halves of the book are inexplicably intertwined.

I am new to poetry and this book was hard for me. I was thankful that I heard the author’s interview before I picked up the book, otherwise I would have had no idea what was happening! And still – I’m amazed by her ability to put such difficult moments into words and feelings that gave me a small peek into her life.


Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
Some things, say the wise ones who know everything,
are not living. I say,
you live your life your way and leave me alone.

This collection by Mary Oliver, published in 2005, was perfect for slow reading, just before scooting down into my bed.

Now he left his chestnut colored throat
and delivers such a cantering praise –
for what?
For the early morning, the taste of the spider,

for his small cup of life
that he drinks from every day, knowing it will refill.

What a thought to fall asleep to! When I think of Mary Oliver, I think of hope, gratitude, and joy, which is exactly where I want to be putting my focus.

Read Alouds

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
I wasn’t sure how this was going to go with the kiddos – my oldest is only 7. But I enjoy reading this book as soon as the grass starts to turn green because I start imagining that my home is in The Shire, and I wanted to share that with the kids. Luckily, they were good natured about it and seemed to enjoy many parts. I still love how much Bilbo yearns for his little hobbit hole throughout the whole adventure! Reading it out loud forced me to slow down and really pay attention, so I was surprised by all of the details that were new to me. I highly recommend this as a read aloud!


The Battle for Perodia by Katrina Charman
We were excited to get the sixth book in The Last Firehawk series from the library and join the battle to save Perodia and all of our friends! Thorn and his spies managed to worm their way into Valor Wood which everyone bravely defended. And luckily – there are still more books in the series after this one!


I’ll try not to let these pile up again, but I can’t make any promises! Here’s to all of us finding stacks of good books for the summer!

13 thoughts

  1. I fine it very hard late to concentrate on reading, nothing seems to interest me. I’m glad your children are enjoying the Hobbit! Have a wonderful day.

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  2. Thank you for confirming to me that I don’t need to read the rest of the Gilead series. The first one was such a letdown for me, and I thought perhaps that the others might redeem it, but I trust your assessment of Jack to know that I don’t need to read it right now.

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  3. I listened to that same On Being episode and immediately had to find Whereas. Yes, it is hard poetry, but goodness… it is so gorgeous. Her voice just sings in the words! I love the “read alouds” that is just the best!

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  4. “Why I Wake Early” sounds super interesting! I really admire you for having such a great balance in fiction and non-fiction, I’m more of a novel reader who should read the stack of non-fiction I have accumulated. 😉

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    1. I definitely go through periods where I read a ton of fiction and there’s nothing wrong with that! But I find that nonfiction can sometimes help nudge me out of reading ruts 😉

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  5. I never read the Hobbit (or any of the LOTR books) … I’d love to be a fly on the wall for your read-alouds! So glad you found some books that really worked for you. It’s hard to feel like the only person who just doesn’t get a book that everyone else seems to think is amazing, isn’t it?!

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    1. Yes! Especially since I just abandoned Project Hail Mary, which everyone is raving about. It didn’t interest me at all – and I read nearly 200 pages before giving up. Oh well — I’m reading 2 books now that I’m really, really enjoying, which is all that matters.

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