Friday, May 1, 2020

April 2020 Books #mylifeinbooks



(I can't decide if these lists should be in order or in reverse order...and does it matter? Sometimes I find myself in an interesting sequence of books...so sometimes sequence matters. Usually it's irrelevant, though, so I'm just writing this header to make a note of it!)

The Opposite of Love - this was not my favorite of this author's works. I have found her writing about teens and grief and love to be really moving and lovely. This one was a little disappointing, although I wanted to know what would happen. I'm pretty sure this was her first book, and it took her a little bit to find her voice in her later books!

An Everlasting Meal - I wish I could remember who recommended this (was it you?) but this was delightful. Especially in a time when I'm constantly thinking about what to cook my family for dinner and how to make something from what is in my pantry...but even in a time of plenty. I enjoyed her style and her approach to food and cooking. I am definitely sharing this one with David, who will be heading out into his own kitchen someday soon....

Untamed - Writer Glennon Doyle has made quite a shift since her first book (which I read too). In her first book, she felt real but there was something that rubbed me a little wrong...and it seems as though it may have bothered her a little bit too (ha, that's meant to be an understatement). I liked the slightly disjointed style, as though I were just having a conversation with her, and I liked seeing how she pieced the elements of her story together. "We can do hard things" is not an original idea to her but it certainly found its mark with me as I read it during this time of worldwide trauma. Highly recommend this one!

4-3-2-1 - let me start by saying that this book is loooong. By long, I mean that my kindle told me it would take me over 12 hours to read and it is over 800 pages. It was totally worth it. But wow. It's such an interesting premise - one character followed through four different life-paths. A little like the movie Sliding Doors. I had a little bit of a hard time following each of the paths fully, since they were broken up (chapter 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, and then 2.1, 2.2...etc, so it wasn't four separate novelas but instead each life path carried on and then you went back to the next one). The chapters were long, too, so I didn't always remember which life-path I was reading, but I just kept going with the flow, and I didn't care too much which storyline I was reading! To be honest, I think it was a little too heavy on the history, name-dropping, book-list/movie-list-making, etc - and could have been pared down a little to tell the story. But....all that, it was a great read.

Chosen Ones - new book from the author of Divergent, and it was a nice break to read something a little flighty and escapist. Magic, bad guys, good guys-who-might-be-bad, all of that. A reluctant heroine....overall, I enjoyed this quick read!

P.S. This seems like such a short list! Hopefully I will read more books in May....

March's List
February's List
January's list

Thursday, April 2, 2020

#blogexodus 8: expand

it's almost funny
to think about
expanding

while we're
contracting
constricting
limiting
squeezing
compressing
restricting

but even in this time
we can
e x p a n d
our
compassion
joy
blessing
hope
goodness

and above all else
l o v e.

What's #BlogExodus? Read more here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

#blogExodus 6: Retell



I keep lists of the stories I tell. And yes, I tell them over and over. I try to vary them, to keep them fresh, and to tell them in different sequence. And I love when I can find a new story to add to my general repertoire. But overall? I tell the same stories again and again.

And we all love it.

Think about the child who watches the same movie over and over. Or reads the same book again and again. It's joyous, it's immersive, it's comforting.

One might even say that we NEED those retellings. How else does a story become a part of the very fiber of our being if we don't tell it over and over again?

So it is with the Exodus.
Over
and
over
and
over
we tell the same story.
We never get tired of sharing our journey from slavery to freedom. It never gets old.
We work the story over, like a ball of putty, making new shapes from the same material, and yet always returning back to its original form.

It is in the re-telling, the tell-me-again, the turn-it-and-turn-it, that we find our deepest meaning.

What's #BlogExodus? Read more here.

March 2020 Books


Have you noticed that the world feels topsy-turvy? (that was a joke) It's been hard to focus and I feel like I'm working around the clock, so there have been fewer books in March than in previous months...but I'm still over here reading. 

The Cactus - this was a little bit of a meh read for me. It felt a little like Eleanor Oliphant but not as compelling. Maybe I wouldn't read this unless you were stuck at home and didn't have much else to do....

Wunderland - I read a lot of books about the Holocaust, and this one was a little bit unique in its perspective of two young women in Berlin as the Nazis come to power...and in the aftermath of all of that. One of the women discovers a family secret (it's a spoiler for me to tell you, I think, but I'm betting you can guess) and it changes her whole life. This one was definitely worth reading!

House of the Broken Angels - last month, I read American Dirt, and I committed myself to reading another book by a Latinx author to balance the controversy. I chose this one because I heard this author specifically speak against the American Dirt book. House of the Broken Angels was a little bit of a tough read for me, but it also might have been due to the chaos that seems to have erupted in the world while I was reading it. The story was powerful and strong, a saga of a Mexican-American family and their immigrant experience. It was also interesting to compare to my own family's immigrant story.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January  - a fantasy tale about the power of words and stories. In this world, there are "doors" that open into other worlds, and people who want to close them all down. Sound familiar? My favorite quote: "I believe I already know what happens to a world without doors." I really liked this one.

My Dark Vanessa - has this ever happened to you: you start reading a book and think to yourself, "what on earth convinced me to put this book on my to-read list?" That was how I felt as I started this dark and really difficult book. Did you recommend this book to me? It was sad and hard to read this story of a young woman who was a victim of a sexual predator, a teacher at her school. The book is getting a lot of press, and I recommend you read some articles and interviews before you decide if you want to read this one...

Once We Were Brothers - how have I never read this book or any books in this series? So weird. (Thanks, Julie, for putting it on my list!) Anyway, I enjoyed this one. I was pretty sure I knew how it would end (I mean, come on...) but I still liked reading the story and seeing it play out. I've just grabbed the second book in this series from the library app so I'll probably tell you about that one next month. I also liked the Chicago setting... anyway, this was a good, readable, solid Holocaust telling.

February's List
January's list

What are you reading?

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Monday, March 30, 2020

#BlogExodus 5: Seek

We search
hunt
seek out
the chametz
the fluff
the puff

We look for it
so we can
sweep
it
away

and
emerge
feeling
free...

(repost from 2017)

What's #BlogExodus? Read more here.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

#blogExodus day 4: RISE


When we observe the period of shiva, the seven-day mourning period following a death, it is customary to sit on low stools. The mourners literally are brought low by the death of a loved one.

Thus, at the end of shiva, we say that one "rises from shiva."

In so many ways, the isolation that we are feeling in these days of physical distancing is like shiva.
We are lying low....waiting.
For many of us, it's impossibly difficult to be so far apart.

And so we talk about what we'll do when we rise.

We will go out.
We will visit friends.
We'll eat in restaurants and get our nails done.

"Rise" is on the BlogExodus list because of the rising that didn't happen in our bread. It's like we need to rise up in other ways to counteract the flatness of our matzah.

And so it is right now.
We talk about what we'll do when we rise from our isolation.
But, let us talk about how we will rise RIGHT NOW.

We rise together when we check in on our loved ones.
We rise together when we send meals to the staffs of our local ERs.
We rise together when we help others to heal.
We rise together when we join in virtual song, prayer, story, learning.
We rise.
Higher and higher.

Right now.
We rise.

What's #BlogExodus? Read more here.