On My Bookshelf {March 19, 2012}

reading
source: Mo Riza

Last week I caught up with my January & February book list, and today I’m sharing the books I’ve read so far in March!

I’m still averaging 2-3 books per week, less on especially busy weeks or when trying to meet a deadline, although I find myself less enamored with reading in general and more drawn to specific books based on recommendations from other people, topics I’m interested in or authors I already know and love.

I often get asked how I have time to read so much, so I shared my top strategies in the busy mom’s guide to finding time to read.

One of my favorite sources for reading material is Amazon’s free Kindle books. I’ve gotten more than 700 books over the last two years, and I’ve discovered more than a few authors and series that I love. Although I prefer to read on my Kindle Fire — Amazon offers free Kindle apps for your PC, Mac, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android or Windows 7 phone as well!

When I do buy a book, which I’ve been doing more often lately as I get more picky about my reading list, I like to use gift cards I’ve earned through Swagbucks — guilt-free shopping at its finest!

And with that, here are the books I’ve read so far in March:

Fiction

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
After reading The Giver at the end of last month, I realized that I had regrettably missed all of Lois Lowry’s books when I was in school. Number the Stars happens to be on our girls middle school reading list (if we stick with our current curriculum, which we plan to), so I decided to start there. As with The Giver, there is no question why this one is a Newbery Winner. Told through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl living in Nazi-occupied Denmark, this is a story of courage and hope in the face of unimaginable circumstances as Annemarie Johannesen and her family work to protect their best friends and other Jews from their community by hiding and then smuggling them out of the country.  I especially loved Lowry’s notes at the end about which parts of the story were true and which were fictionalized. This is a story that brings history to life, and it’s not one I’ll forget anytime soon!

Messenger (The Giver Trilogy) by Lois Lowry
I’m not sure how or why I did this, but I actually read these books out of order, thinking that Messenger was the second book in The Giver trilogy. And honestly, I was not enamored with this book, which was disappointing since I was a bit obsessed with Lois Lowry when I picked it up. This has tenuous ties to The Giver in that the Leader in this book is supposedly Jacob from the first book, but I honestly didn’t even pick up on that connection while reading; a friend told me afterward. While The Giver was poignant and thought-provoking, this one seemed shallow and forced, and I walked away disappointed.

Gathering Blue (The Giver Trilogy) Lois Lowry
So it was with some trepidation that I picked up Gathering Blue, which is actually the second book in The Giver series. This one doesn’t even pretend to have ties to The Giver (although it is the one that ties the first and third books together), and I actually really enjoyed it. Kira is a girl born with a twisted leg to a widowed mother, in a society where such imperfections simply aren’t tolerated. Her mother insists on keeping her and teaches her the art of embroidery as she grows. Kira soon surpasses her mother’s skill, and when her mother dies, she is selected by The Council to restore and finish an ancient robe. Soon, Kira begins to discover that the truths she’s always believed — about the world and her family — aren’t true at all.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Okay, confession — not only did I not finish this story, but I barely even started it, which isn’t giving it much of a fair chance, I know. I’m not sure if the problem was the book itself (which isn’t likely since it’s a bestseller) or that I kept trying to read it while riding the exercise bike at more than a leisurely pace, but it just didn’t hold my attention. I was a little iffy about picking it up from the library in the first place based on some of the reviews I read, so I think I was just unmotivated to really give it a chance. I don’t often leave books unfinished, but I’m going to return this one to the library and check it off my list!

Nonfiction

The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Comprehensive Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing by James A. Duke
While not exactly riveting, this book is pretty fascinating for anyone who has any interest in herbal remedies. Dr. James A. Duke was charged with building a comprehensive database for the USDA of the medicinal compounds found in plants from around the world. Although the lab he headed is no longer in existence, the database is still available to the public. In The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook, Dr. Duke reorganizes the information to provide a quick reference to more than 180 herbs, including their benefits, side effects, dosages and more.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
Eat seven foods. Wear seven articles of clothing. Give away seven things a day. In this funny and thought-provoking book, Jen Hatmaker shares her “experimental mutiny against excess”. Over the course of seven months, Jen tackled one area at a time, reducing her food consumption to just seven balanced foods for a month, choosing just seven articles of clothing to wear for a month, etc. I’m only about 1/3 of the way through this one, but I love it already. Written in journal format as Jen walks through each month’s challenge, she invites us to learn from her experience as she fights back against greed, materialism and overindulgence. I don’t see our family embarking on the 7 experiment any time soon, but I can guarantee we’ll be making changes after reading this one!

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School by Alexandra Robbins
Next on my list is The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth. I’m looking forward to reading this one. From Amazon: “Alexandra Robbins manages to cross Gossip Girl with Freaks and Geeks and explain the fascinating psychology and science behind popularity and outcasthood. She reveals that the things that set students apart in high school are the things that help them stand out later in life.”

With the Girls

Hind’s Feet on High Places: Children’s Edition by Hannah Hurnard
The big girls and I read one chapter book at a time (sprinkled with lots of shorter reads). We’ve just finished Hind’s Feet on High Places, which is so full of imagery and deep theology that I’m sure I got more out of it than they did! Much-Afraid has been called by the Shepherd to the High Places. But to get there, she must turn her back on her Fearing relatives and reject Self-Pity, Bitterness, Pride and more. She learns to make Sorrow and Suffering her companions instead, and along the way she learns valuable lessons about trust and faith. The girls loved the story, and I appreciated the notes, Scripture memory and prayers sprinkled through out the book that gave us the opportunity to pause and talk about what we were reading and what it meant.

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Next up, Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, who is my favorite children’s author/illustrator. Make Way for Ducklings, Lentil, Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine are all favorites here, so I’m excited to jump into this one and see if it carries the same wonder and awe as McCloskey’s shorter books do!

What have you read this month?

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