CB Reads : Library Pressure and Meeting a Warrior

In the last few years, my reading schedule has been either feast or total famine. If you ask me, “Read any good books lately?” I will probably either rattle off five books I read in the last month or I’ll look at you with a blank stare for a few minutes while I try to remember the last time I picked up anything with actual pages with words on them. The biggest motivator for me lately has been an institution that certainly isn’t new…the public library! Instead of buying new books, I’ve gotten into the habit of requesting them from the library, and since many are in demand, it takes a while before I reach the front of the list. Then, once I have the book in hand, I only have a few short weeks to finish it before it’s due! Nothing like the pressure of paying a surly librarian a late fee to get me turning pages!

CB Reads

Here are a few books I’ve finished since January 1 (and yes, I totally have a late fee on my library card right now…one thing at a time, friends!):

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Now I’ll admit, I was a kid when the movie version of this book came out, and I remember my mother loving it…which of course meant that I hated it! Kids are fun. Anyway, I saw this novel on a list of favorites by another blogger, and I figured I’d give it a shot. It was so much more than I expected, and though the subject matter was heavy, I couldn’t put it down. The language and scenery drew me in, and I was totally enthralled. I highly recommend this one, it’s a total classic.

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton


I’ve written about this book before, but just this past month I was lucky enough to hear the author speak and was also able to meet her in person. My goodness, what an experience! Glennon’s blog Momastery and this book carried me through my early days in recovery (this post in particular, which is also included in her book), and I can’t describe what an honor it was to meet her, thank her and hug her. This is a book for anyone struggling with hardship in their lives, especially if they want to laugh again.

Confessions: The Private School Murders by James Patterson

Now, this book called my name from the YA shelf at the library, and while it’s not winning a Pulitzer anytime soon, it was still dishy fun! It’s a quick and easy read, despite it’s length, and I really enjoyed it. The story centers around a wealthy teenager who is also a amateur private detective, and a series of murders happening among her wealthy New York friends. There are several backstory mysteries as well, and the whole thing kept my attention, even if it was a bit predictable.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I’ve had this book on hold for months, so I was super excited when it finally came through! This story of a woman who witnesses a crime from a train car is non-stop action. I found myself finishing this book during one of our snowed in days early in the year, tucked in front of a fire, swatting at the children to leave me alone so I could finish! It’s an intense thriller (which is usually not my favorite), but the human stories that are built in to the story line are as interesting as the main mystery.

What have you been reading lately? I’m in the middle of All the Light We Cannot See, and I’m having a bit of trouble getting into it, even though it’s good.

CB Reads : Summer’s End Update

 CB Reads Last summer I was a reading machine! I pretty much turned off the TV and computer, and spent most of my summer with my nose buried in a book. It was heavenly. This summer was a bit more hectic than the last few, as I started my own business, traveled more for work, and in general had a more packed schedule. Of course, these are all really just excuses. I could’ve read more, but I was just too lazy. My brain was exhausted and for whatever reason, I felt like binge watching Netflix was the way to recharge. Some days it worked, but others it didn’t. And though I often tried, I just couldn’t get myself back in to a reading mood.

That is…until St. Lucia. That vacation from all things electronic was just perfect. Without the daily distractions of a buzzing phone or social media, finding time to catch up on a good book was easy! I borrowed a few titles from my buddy Lane (of the Misc. Blog), and they didn’t disappoint!

Finding Audrey

This book was written by Sophie Kinsella (of Confessions of a Shopaholic fame) and it was a quick, juicy one for me. This was the first book I read on our trip, and I devoured it. The story centers around Audrey, a teenage girl who has endured a horrific bullying incident (which we, the readers, are not privy to) before the book begins. Newly diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and some PTSD, Audrey narrates the story of her slow road to recovery. This book is sweet, romantic and really good. I loved it!

Rules of Civility: A Novel

This novel was pretty much the exact opposite of Finding Audrey! The life of Katey Kontent in 1937 was completely mesmerizing. I was totally transported to another world, where women had few choices in how to move up in life. And just when I thought I knew Katey’s story, this novel surprised me.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair: A Novel

This mystery by author Joel Dicker had me on the edge of my seat. This novel explores not only the mysterious death of a teenage girl, but the secrets surrounding a beloved town author who is accused of the crime. In the end, I found myself questioning what we do for success, and how someone’s career may seem privileged, when in fact, it’s full of sadness. What is the cost for success? And is it worth it? Deep stuff, but a very good read.

I gobbled up these three books so quickly, I ended up needing to download another title to finish off our vacation. I decided on the campy and hilarious The Royal We (which is on sale on Amazon Kindle for only $3.99 right now!) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, the geniuses behind the Go Fug Yourself Blog. This novel was the PERFECT way to end my trip. The fictional story of an American woman who ends up being engaged to the Prince of England was sweet, funny and an easy read. I definitely recommend it!

What have you been reading lately? One of my goals for the Fall is to not fall down the Netflix hole again, and instead, try to read a bit more. I’d love some recommendations!

CB Reads : Classics and Heaven

Sunday reads continued (bedtime edition)... ?????????? #reading #winter #fire #warm #love

I had no idea that 2014 was going to be the year I remembered how much I dearly love to read. For the past few years, reading lost it’s luster for me. It took time, of which I clearly had little, and patience, of which I had almost none. When I would collapse after a crazy day of parenting/working/living the human experience, I found myself picking up the remote control instead of a book, losing myself in television or movies that made me laugh.

But in 2014, my kids and I rediscovered the library. I mean, did you guys know they let you take books home for FREE? And if they don’t have the book you want today they will find it for you and then send you a nice note when it’s ready for pickup? Screw technology, library books are officially my MVP of 2014.

From June 2014 (when we became card carrying public library patrons) until the end of the year I read 21 books. Holy. Hell. I don’t think I’d read four books total in the last few years, but in 2014 I fell in love with the page again. This was probably also prompted by my rediscovery of my creativity…when I feel like writing, that usually makes me want to read as well. And so I did, and my brain was better for it.

So far, 2015 is a bit busier than the early days of 2014, and I was afraid I’d fall back into a pattern of numbing out to TV instead of burying my nose in a book. (Sidenote: Numbing out to TV is totally awesome too…don’t think I’ve given up on moving pictures! I still love them too! Just not with as much vigor.) Luckily, my kids still beg for library time, so I’ve been inspired to keep going too. So far this year I’ve finished two books, and they couldn’t be more different.

Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy is the beautiful story of blogger Stephanie Nielson, who lived a charmed life as a wife and mother of four in Arizona. I have followed Stephanie’s blog since the early days, and always enjoyed her musings on family, faith and fun projects she did around her home. I was also obsessed with her red lipstick (we all know I’m a sucker for a bright red lip)! But in 2008, Stephanie’s world shattered around her, as she and her husband were involved in a horrific plane crash, which left Stephanie burned over 80% of her body. Heaven is Here is a memoir depicting Stephanie’s life before and after the crash, and focusing on her climb back from physical and mental obstacles I can’t even imagine. I was inspired and found myself appreciating all the good (and bad) in my life after reading this book. Stephanie’s writing is funny and real, and I am so glad she invites us along as she tells her story.

Jane Eyre is a book I read in high school, but I honestly didn’t remember much. Lately I’ve rediscovered my love of the classics, especially when they are told by women. I feel way too often women’s voices are overshadowed, especially in fiction, and it soothes me to know some tales go on. Even though space and time divides myself and Jane Eyre, it’s comforting to read her story and find common links. I think this year I’m going to try and read a couple more classics, just to remind myself of what amazing women writers of all times are capable of. The Charlotte Bronte’s of the world are the precursors to little bloggers like me, and I’m so grateful to belong to a club of women telling their stories.

Read anything good lately? I’m always looking for some awesome additions to my bookshelf! Plus, the local librarian now knows us by name, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever!

CB Reads : Becoming Ma and Laura

Lulu and I have been reading again. When I talked about our reading habits a few months back, we had just started the process of finding time to read together. At the time, that meant we’d each pick up a chapter book, snuggle in my bed, and read for an hour or so each night. Somewhere along the line, Lucy shyly asked if I’d want to read out loud to her, like when she was little. Well, I’m gonna keep it real here, that didn’t sound awesome to me! BUT, she was so excited about it, and when Lucy is pumped about something, we all had better hang on for the ride. That’s how I found myself dictating chapters of “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls-Wilder each evening for the past month.

Now, as far as Laura Ingalls-Wilder books go, “The Long Winter” is a bit depressing. Chapter after chapter the Ingalls family hunkers down as blizzards hit their town, the food runs out, the trains get stuck, and they almost starve. Just a light, little bedtime story! But it is a Newbury Award winner for a reason, and we found a lot of joy in the little moments of this tale, like when Pa gets out the fiddle and plays along with the storm or when Ma finds a way to surprise everyone with a pie when there aren’t ingredients for one in the cupboards. When we finished and Spring finally came to the small town, Lucy actually had tears in her eyes.

A week later I found myself making an apple pie from scratch (I used this recipe) with apples we picked at the orchard. I blame Ma Ingalls. And the Ingalls family attitude has rubbed off on Lucy too. The other day, we were all in a bit of a grumpy mood when she said, “I think I’ll just be cheerful, it always helps keep spirits up when you’re cheerful!”

So I just made an apple pie from scratch. With apples we picked. From trees. I am basically Ma Ingalls. #applepie #baking #marthastewart #recipe #fall

Along with “The Long Winter,” I also just finished the Kristen Johnston memoir, “Guts.” It was soooo good. Lu and I are in the middle of “Walk Two Moons,” and we are super embroiled in the story’s mysterious tone. I’m also reading the Hilary Clinton autobiography “Hard Choices.” This look inside the workings of the 2008 campaign and the Obama administration are fascinating. This is a big hunk of a book, so I’m taking my time with it.

Lucy and I just finished two of these and are now moving on to the other two. Smart, female writers make our hearts go pitter, patter! ?????????????????????? #reading #women #love

Read any great books lately? We are looking for recommendations! I got the idea for “Walk Two Moons” from an Instagram follower. You guys are the smartest!

CB Reads : David and Goliath + I Am Malala

Pretty good haul for mama at the library too! #johnsoncountylibrary #librariesrule #malala #malcomgladwell #read

During the past few months I’ve turned into a bit of a bookworm. Our open summer schedule meant many, MANY trips to our local library to beat the heat and gather up some new reading material. Lucy is a speed-reader who goes through several chapter books at a time, so we ended up spending A LOT of our summer hours curled up with our stories. Not only does my local library have an amazing selection, it also offers ebooks, which I can download on my iPad. I’m such a nerd-face, you should’ve seen me when I realized I could get books for FREE! It’s like I forgot how libraries work in this land of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I ended up mirroring my daughter, going through a ton of books, and staying up all night reading. It was pretty awesome.

One of my favorites was David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. I had heard about this book from a few people, and had even attended a seminar where the speaker based his argument on stories included in this collection. The book is a series of essays by Gladwell, a New Yorker columnist and author of a ton of other incredible reads (more here), focusing on the underdogs of society and how they overcame adversity. More specifically, it hones in on how underdogs, in reality, are sometimes nothing of the sort. In the titular essay, Gladwell writes about David, the young shepherd boy who slayed the giant Goliath in the famous Bible story. But was David really an underdog? Or was he smarter, faster and more prepared than Goliath? Did his size work for him, instead of against him? Gladwell is a wonderful writer, and this book was no exception. The section on the Civil Rights Era and the Irish-Catholic resistance against the British are both very intriguing and relate very much to what’s happening in the news right now. I highly recommend it for underdogs (and giants) everywhere.

I also recently finished the autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai. It tells the story of Malala, who was 15 when her school bus was pulled over by Taliban fighters, who climbed aboard and shot her. Malala was the writer of an online journal for the BBC, which told of her struggles in trying to continue attending school after the Taliban took over her home in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. Her story is definitely worth reading. This book reminded me a bit of Anne Frank, the journals and memories of a young girl living thru a war, with stories about fights with friends and being angry at her brothers mixed in with tales of Taliban fighters roaming her town and threats against any girls attending school. It is heartbreaking and uplifting, as Malala continues to fight for education for girls, even after surviving such a terrifying ordeal.

The world is a scary place today. I watch the news and see the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri and Mosul, Iraq. I don’t know what to make of a world where an unarmed boy is shot by police or children are murdered for their religious beliefs. I don’t know how I can help or what I can do. But books like these make me think a better world is possible, and there are people that are working to get us there. When I read, I am growing, and with growth, I believe I can be inspired to find a way to help. Let’s keep learning, friends. Let’s keep growing.

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