Confession: I have never been very good about keeping track of the books that I read. Maybe it didn’t matter years ago, but as I grow older, I would really like to remember the year that I read THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL. And if I rated and wrote a review, all the better.
Enter Goodreads. For several years now, Goodreads has helped me keep track of the books I read. It’s easy to rate, review, and write private notes to myself about a book. I love that. And something about keeping track makes me want to read more and more. How fun is that!
For 2016, I set myself a goal of reading 48 books (4 per month). Thanks to the wonder of audiobooks, I have already met my goal. Today, I’d like to share some of my favorite reads of the year thus far.
DRUG MUGGERS (5 stars):
I wish I’d had this book years ago because my nutrition has definitely been mugged by prescription and OTC drugs. This is an excellent resource book that I think should be on everybody’s bookshelf. For instance, something as simple as Tums could be robbing you of quite a few important vitamins and minerals your body needs. The author isn’t saying don’t take the antacid or what your doctor prescribes. She is helping you know the foods and/or supplements you can use to replace what the drug has depleted while helping you with what ails you.
RISEN (5 stars):
You may have already seen the movie, Risen, which is being praised from all quarters. I haven’t had the chance yet (update: that was true when I wrote the review; I have since seen it and loved it). But I did listen to the audiobook, and it is AMAZING. The story is told from two points of view, a Roman Tribune, Clavius, and a Jewish widow, Rachel. There were times when I felt as if I were right there in the days before and after the crucifixion. And Yeshua was so real to me because of the wonderful storytelling, I felt like I could reach out and touch him. It was like I had spent time with Him on the edge of the Sea of Galilee.
Rachel didn’t make it into the movie due to time constraints. Well, her part of the story shouldn’t be missed. Read the book!
THE WORST HARD TIME (5 stars):
I thought I’d been taught about the dust bowl era from the 1930’s while in high school. Whew! Either I wasn’t listening or they didn’t think teenagers were ready for the full horrors of this era and our (mankind’s) part in it.
This book is so very good. Because it tells stories of real people who lived in the dust bowl, it held my interest throughout. I was actually sorry when I reached the end. Even more sorry to learn that many parts of that country have still not recovered 80+ years later. Have we learned from the mistakes made in the 1920’s and 1930’s? I wish I could believe we have.
AVA’S MAN (5 stars):
Oh. My. Word. I can hardly wrap my mind around how much I love this book. I listened to the audiobook, read by the author, in his wonderful Southern accent, which only served to immerse me even deeper into the story of Charlie, Ava’s man (and the author’s grandfather). The book was published in 2001, so it isn’t new. But if you haven’t read it, you should.
It is filled to the brim with wonderful turns of phrases that will make you not just fall in love with the people in the story but with their down-home language. One line from early in the book said that he died “soft and quiet, like a cat leaving a room.” And another: “But when the spirit, or the liquor, moved him, he was one of the finest storytellers who ever lived in our part of the country … A man who didn’t need a gun to kill you because he was capable of talking you to death.”
I wish my mom was still alive. She grew up in much the same time frame as Charlie and Ava, although not in the same area of the country. I wish I could ask her to tell me more about my grandfather, who died before I was born. Listening to Ava’s Man made me want to discover my own family’s stories about the Great Depression and the years that followed.
Read. This. Book. Even better, listen to it in the audio form.
ESTHER: ROYAL BEAUTY (5 stars):
I loved this book for many reasons. I loved imagining with the author all of those parts of Esther’s story that are not detailed in the biblical recounting. I loved the bits of real history (the war with Greece, etc.) that were included, painting an even fuller picture of the times and the king. I loved getting the story from Esther’s point of view, but I thought getting another part from Harbonah the eunuch’s point of view added depth that the story wouldn’t have had otherwise. Long ago I learned that I can count on Angela Hunt to do her research, and it shows in her books. I thoroughly enjoyed Esther: Royal Beauty.
LILAC GIRLS (5 stars):
Lilac Girls was not an easy novel to read. It puts a human face on a painful, ugly part of 20th century history. I didn’t know going in that the characters in the story were real people or based on real people. Not knowing made me wonder how on earth the author would redeem the German viewpoint character in my eyes. Turns out she (the author) didn’t have to. And the American and Polish viewpoint characters owned my heart from almost page one. If you like WWII fiction or fiction based on fact, you won’t want to miss Lilac Girls. I’m very glad Goodreads recommended it to me.
THE MAGIC STRINGS OF FRANKIE PRESTO (5 stars):
Every so often I’m blessed to read a book that makes me wish I’d written it. This is one of those books. It was also one of those books that I rushed to finish because I had to know how it ended. And than I was left bereft, as if I’d lost a close friend. I want to read more. I want it to last a little longer.
I listened to the novel on audio, and the cast is amazing. They really brought the characters to life.. And the narrator of Music (Albom) stamped those portions of the story on my heart.
I know. This is sort of a sappy review. I can’t help it. I loved the story that much.
Wow. Just posting these covers and reviews let me relive a little bit of this great reading year. Hope yours is going as well.