Category Archives: The Book Cellar

What I’m Reading, August 2017

This month has been stressful, in spite of the fact that we took a week’s vacation with the kids to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary.

I am thankful for the chance to get away and build stronger relationships and store away good memories.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s August QuickLit.

Camino Island by John Grisham

The story begins with a theft of rare manuscripts from a university library.

Then we’re taken to a Florida bookshop and an undercover operation to recover the manuscripts.

John Grisham’s stories are easy to read. You can figure out the characters and stay with the plot without a lot of work, even if you’re stressed.

I’m not sure I would have noticed that, except that I heard him say something about not introducing more than 5 new characters in the first few chapters.

There’s some elements I didn’t like about Camino Island. I might not be reading John Grisham any more, since I seem to be growing an increasing sensitivity to those elements.

I wish I could combine the strengths of some authors with others.

It was interesting to see a story about the bookselling world, even if it was cheapened by taudry scenes.

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

It took 100 pages for this story to really get good. But, when it did, I was hooked.

Who can resist the search for a lost city? There’s quite an appeal to explore virgin territory, untouched by human hands for centuries, but yet once a thriving civilization.

The book took a left turn for the last fourth and covered tropical diseases, almost leaving archeology in the dust. I found the information interesting, but it certainly wasn’t where I was expecting the book to go.

A Place of Refuge by K. M. Gross

The story is set in Montana and revolves around Dani, a young woman escaping an abusive relationship and Matt, who’s dealing with grief and loss.

A Place a Refuge is recommended for young readers, say 12-16. I liked the moral tone of the book.

Kudos to the author for her debut novel.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House traces several decades of whites and blacks during slavery in the South.

I can’t really say I liked the story line. Like the author herself said, it has some disturbing elements.

But, the story is compelling. Tragic, really, what the people of the time endured. The twisted and convoluted relationships. The evil that existed. The foundational beliefs that paved the way for so much that was twisted and convoluted.

It wasn’t graphic, given the nature of the subject matter.

Unfortunately, it rings true.  If you really want to understand the times, you have to understand the undercurrent that runs through the story.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train traces two orphans: a girl from modern times and one from the early 1900s. It’s interesting to see how the philosophy of orphan care has changed in this country, especially knowing some great foster parents and some of the inside pros and cons of the foster system.

I liked the book, except for one passage that was too graphic.

It was a fictional account, but the amazing fact is that 250,000 children rode the train over a period of several decades.

What are you reading this month?

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Stop wishing you read more: one simple key to reading more books

Every year, almost 5 million people google how to read more as part of their research for New Year’s Resolutions.

It comes in behind exercising and eating right, but it’s on the list of things people want to do to improve their lives.

I remember wishing I read more.  I didn’t google it and I didn’t make it a New Year’s Resolution, but I was feeling it intensely.

I still wish it sometimes, but not as often and not a strongly, since I discovered the simple key to reading more.

 

The key to reading more is to surround yourself with irresistible books.

Goals and challenges can help.

Accountability and support systems are good.

But, achievement will be almost effortless if you are surrounded by irresistible books.

The challenge will no longer be, how can I make time to read? But, how will I get my cleaning done, how do I get a full night’s sleep every night? How can I get my work done?

Not just great books, not just bestsellers, not just books that are famous, but books that are irresistible to YOU.

Finding them and getting access to them is your challenge.

How do you find them, the irresistible books?

First of all, you have to answer the question Why am I reading?

Am I reading to be educated or entertained? Do I want to learn or escape? These are the two main reasons people read.

The exceptional writers are the ones who can entertain while teaching or instruct while entertaining.

So, you mainly want to escape and be entertained? Where do you find great books? The plethora of books available makes finding ones you love a daunting task.

You could go by bestseller lists, by GoodReads or Amazon reviews, what your friends are reading, book clubs or bloggers. There’s so many great resources on the internet now to find books you love. Pinterest, instagram, twitter.

So, you’re interesting in learning? To scale up your business, to take up a new hobby, to rocket your side hustle. Or to improve your spiritual, emotional or relational life. To understand what’s happening in the world or in politics. To understand a cause or join the conversation.

This is the best time in history to connect with people with the same interests as you. You can find them online. You can find out what they’re reading and what they’re writing.

Surrounding yourself with irresistible books has never been easier.

Even with the disappearance of bookstores. Even if you’re not close to a library, the possibilities are greater than ever. There’s audio books. There’s ebooks. There’s used books–sometimes cheap online, sometimes not. There’s free books from people building their businesses.

Some people don’t consider the time that they’re exercising or commuting or cleaning the kitchen as a good time to read. But, if you add audio books into the mix, all of a sudden windows of time for reading open up.

 

Find books you love.

When you are surrounded by books you love, then it’s no longer a problem of finding time to read, it will be a problem of finding time to clean or mow the lawn or sleep.  It won’t be a matter of finding time to read.

I think this is the key. I really do. I owe a lot to Modern Mrs Darcy for helping me to find books that I love. Not that everything I’ve heard on podcast or read about in her blog have been winners, but I found out about a lot of books that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It gave this fiction snob a reason to believe that there are novels out there that I like. I had about given up hope. It felt like all the wholesome novels were not well-written and the well-written novels were not wholesome.

“Throw your phone in the ocean.”

Even with print books and ebooks, there’s the time you spend waiting, there’s the time you spend on your phone or watching tv or engaging with social media.

Austin Kleon’s number one rule for reading more is “Throw your phone in the ocean.” Nuff said.

 

 

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Five Minute Friday: Inspire

 

What a week.  Lots of overwhelm.  Thankful for some vacation days coming up.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the FMF crew.

Today’s prompt is: inspire.

***********

There’s few things that can inspire like hearing someone’s story: raw, transparent, redemptive.

Just knowing that they triumphed creates within us a hope.

If they could do it. If they survived. If they attained, made peace or reached an understanding, I can. There’s hope for me.

That’s the bottom line of inspiration.
Since we are all part of the human race and you came through it, I now have hope.

********************

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What I’m Reading, July 2017

 

July is a good time to be grateful for the good ‘ol USA.

May we never take for granted the freedoms we have, the sacrifices of those who have gone before and the foundational truths that benefit us every day.

I’m loving summer mornings.  It’s so great not to have to be out of the house by 7:30.

Not a lot of books finished this month, due mostly to an overindulgence in Blue Bloods episodes.  Gotta love summer schedules.

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you, a portion of your purchase goes to support this site.)

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit for July.

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

This book is a game changer.

It challenges long held beliefs and deconstructs myths.

Real Artists Don’t Starve doesn’t just refer to painters and sculptors, but writers, poets, and creatives of all types.

The twelve principles that emerged from Jeff studying creatives are supported by success stories from today and throughout history.

I love lots of them, but my favorite is about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and the literary group they belonged to, the Inklings.  They shaped each other’s art.  It debunks the myth of the lone genius and highlights the need to work in collaboration.

This message of Real Artists is important for young people who have been told to put their dreams on hold in favor of a steady income.

It’s also important for older people who have not pursued their dreams believing in the inability of artists to make a living.

It’s time for a paradigm shift and Jeff Goins is leading the way.

.  Buy now from Amazon

  Buy now from Amazon

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval is a fantasy story that revolves around two sisters wanting to escape an abusive home.

They are enticed by the promises of Caraval and the chance to win their hearts’ desires.  The rules of the game put everything they know and believe to the test.

I can recommend this book to young people.  It’s great to see a YA book with traditional values.

The story was intriguing enough to keep me to the end– high praise for a fiction snob.

I think we’ll be seeing more of Stephanie Garber.

 Buy now from Amazon

Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott.

Even though I don’t agree with all of Anne’s theology and less of her politics, I love her writing.

Hallelujah Anyways is classic Anne.

I can’t say it’s one my favorites, though. Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions and Some Assembly Required rank up there at the top for me.

I like her definition of mercy– Radical kindness. Need more of that.

 

 Buy now from Amazon

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

Successful book marketer, Tim Grahl, included Show Your Work! on his list of 11 Best Book Marketing Books.

As a bookseller, I’m fascinated with the world of book publishing and marketing, especially in the days of great industry upheavals.

There’s a lot of misbeliefs about selling and marketing your book.  Probably number one is all you have to do is write a great book and wait for it to be discovered.

Authors really have to do a lot of networking, platform building, audience rapport and building relationships with influencers.

One of the points that Austin makes, that is also made in Jeff Goin’s Real Artists Don’t Starve is that you need to practice in public.  Show people the process, whether it’s rough drafts or behind the scenes work or works in progress.

Get feedback in the middle of the creative process, don’t create in private and wait for the big reveal.

You know, though, the way I see it, sometimes you have to guard the gate if you create in public, because haters are out there and their feedback is unnecessarily discouraging.

I’ll be checking out some more on Grahl’s list.

Hope you had a great book reading month!

What are you reading?

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Real Artists Don’t Starve

 

This book is a game changer.

It challenges long held beliefs and deconstructs myths.

Real Artists Don’t Starve doesn’t just refer to painters and sculptors, but writers, poets, and creatives of all types.

The twelve principles that emerged from Jeff studying creatives are supported by success stories from today and throughout history.

I love lots of them, but my favorite is about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and the literary group they belonged to, the Inklings.  They shaped each other’s art.  It debunks the myth of the lone genius and highlights the need to work in collaboration.

This message is important for young people who have been told to put their dreams on hold in favor of a steady income.

It’s also important for older people who have not pursued their dreams believing in the inability of artists to make a living.

It’s time for a paradigm shift and Jeff Goins is leading the way

.  Buy now from Amazon

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What I’m Reading, June 2017

Yep.  June means strawberries.

Strawberry pie for Pete’s birthday. Strawberries in the freezer.  Fresh strawberries for dessert.

I like moving into the summer schedule.  No stress to be out the door in time for school. More quiet time in the morning, which is critical for my mental health.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for this month’s Quick Lit.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

  Buy now from Amazon

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

Kyle and Tsh Oxenreider took their three kids, ages 4-10 on a 9 month, around the world trip.

That in itself piques curiosity.

It’s a transparent book about international travel: the heat, the crowds, the kids puking.

Tsh chronicles their globe trotting, but, more importantly, reflects on some of the deepest longings of the human heart: how to make a home, the need for belonging, even peace with God no matter where we lay our heads.

These are favorite topics for me: what are the elements of “home”? What is the drive behind wanderlust? What are the deeper longings of the heart that cause restlessness and rootlessness? How do we satisfy our longing for community regardless of where we rest our heads?

I think these are questions worth pondering.

I know a lot of global nomads. I know these are issues for them. They are issues for me.

 Buy now from Amazon

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

The novelized account of our country’s first female sheriff was fascinating.

Three sisters living alone in the country manage to get on the wrong side of some shady characters.  How they hold their own, some family secrets and facing danger head on made for a great story.

Stewart writes in an engaging style that kept me flipping pages.

I was glad to see the author follows the sisters’ story in another book.

 

  Buy now from Amazon

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Note: Heads up for language.

I didn’t really understand apartheid until I read this book.

Seeing how it played out in people’s lives is sobering.

Trevor Noah has a white father and a black mother.  In South Africa, it was illegal for his father and mother to procreate.  His very existance was against the law, hence the title, Born a Crime.

It’s mind-blowing to think about the world and the life that Trevor Noah was born into. It’s a cautionary tale, especially for those who have a vote in their government’s laws and leaders.

I liked Noah’s personal and relatable writing style as well as the occasional political commentary.

 

 Buy now from Amazon

Hashimoto’s Protocol by Izabella Wentz

I found that this book isn’t as readable as her other book. Not sure why. I have to take it a little bit at a time.

For me, I’ve implemented one or two things at a time. Making wholesale changes was too overwhelming. But, it’s amazing the difference little tweaks can make.

I don’t have all the symptoms of Hashimoto’s. I think that’s because there are so many different root causes, and often multiple root causes. Pinpointing the root causes takes time as well as trial and error. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Even though I see some dramatic improvements in my health, there’s still a long way to go.

What are you reading this month?

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What I’m Reading, May 2017

The lilacs have come and gone in our yard, and I didn’t get one picture of them.

My husband walked away from a serious car accident virtually uninjured.  We took a quick trip to PA for a wedding.  The school year is wrapping up with characteristic craziness.

Some great books read this month and one abandoned.

Linking up again with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.

(Discosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase will go to support this site.)

  Buy now from Amazon

Everything I Never Told You

by Celeste Ng

I liked this book, although I wasn’t sure where it was going and didn’t know I liked it till the end.

It’s about a teenage girl who comes up missing.  Rarely have I read a novel that explores the family dynamic in such depth.  It felt believable.  It rang true.  You could feel the pain.  People do things for a reason and even extreme behavior can be understandable.

I wouldn’t say that the characters in this novel were relatable.  But, there was enough mystery to propel the novel forward and a fascinating tangle of human relationships.

It was a real case study in family systems.

  Buy now from Amazon

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I can’t remember the last time a novel made me cry.  This one did.

Love, friendship, community and social awkwardness.  It’s the recipe for a great novel.

Ove is near the end of his life, but this novel takes us back to his family, his first love and his losses. It is a bittersweet exploration of what really matters in relationships and what gets in the way.

It demonstrates in brilliant colors that no man is an island.

  Buy now from Amazon

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

This novel is an unusual look at marriage.  It traces the story of two fictional characters, but steps back to analyze and philosophize at intervals between the story.

I found it fascinating because the dynamics between husbands and wives are more complex than we give them credit.

Although I wouldn’t recommend this to young people because it does normalize non-traditional values, I found the interactions to be instructive.

   Buy now from Amazon

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

I loved this book written for middle grades and I read it twice.

It gets five stars for being wholesome and a thumbs up for real heroes.  When I read middle grade, I find myself identifying with the teachers and principals.  Ha.

I loved the two families portrayed here and the real struggle with how twelve year olds deal with the heavy issues of life.

I liked her style.  I liked her characters.  I loved seeing the main character win the battles in his world.

This is How it always Is by Laurie Frankel

This is an exceptionally well-written novel.  I abandoned it, however, because it contradicts my world view.  I know there is a growing trend to accept the abnormal as normal and even to embrace it.  But, this is a dangerous trend.  It starts with presuppositions that aren’t true and builds on premises that aren’t true.  I feel that well-meaning people are genuinely deceived.

Books that normalize non-traditional values are not for me.  This is why I abandoned it.

What are you reading this month?

Stay tuned for my Summer Reading Guide for All Ages  Coming soon!

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What I’m Reading, April 2017

Wow.  What a month.

I stepped into my sister’s shoes and cared for her four daughters (ages 2 to 12) while she and her husband led a team to Israel.

I explored why I’m directionally challenged and what helps.

I went to Peru to catch up with my hubby who had already been in South America for a week.  It was a ministry trip that didn’t go as planned.  Our laptop got stolen, I missed my plane in Miami, massive flooding in Peru meant changes in itinerary and an unplanned visit in LA became one of the highlights of the trip.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit.

(Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you a percentage of your purchase will go to support this site.)

  Buy now from Amazon

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

I loved Katherine Reay’s first book, Lizzy and Jane.  Her second and third ones not so much.  I found this one to be slow moving.  By the end, I came to appreciate the setting and the plot was satisfying.  I can’t say I identified strongly with the characters or it was one of my all-time favorite books.

Emily Price is a professional restorer of art on assignment in Atlanta.  She meets Joseph and his brother, Ben, Italian natives that have family in Atlanta.  Emily discovers Ben and Joseph’s family differs quite a bit from her own and long buried family secrets are revealed.

  Buy now from Amazon

The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts

Kara’s bravery in the face of her own mortality is inspiring.

It’s hard for young children to lose their mother to cancer.  It feels unjust.  But, Kara’s acceptance of God’s will for her life showed the world what it means to believe that God is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

She faced the reality that her marriage wasn’t eternal.

I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with God’s sovereignty.

 Buy now from Amazon

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was gratuitous language.  Sometimes language in a dialogue can prove a point, but there’s no good reason for it to be in the narrative.

That being said, I love the social analysis wrapped around a boot-strapping overcomer’s story. J.D. Vance emerged from an impoverished childhood to graduated from Harvard and become a successful lawyer.

It has some similarities to Ben Carson’s story in Gifted Hands.

I love the positive impact and stability the author’s grandparents brought to his life.

My heart breaks for the young people in this country, especially for the homes that so many grow up in–for the poverty–not of money so much as love, stability, education and faith.

One thing that struck me is that the author wasn’t able to find much help in counseling, but research, learning and understanding about himself and his formative years brought a measure of peace.

 Buy now from Amazon

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

“The true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny.”

An inspiring story, well told.

An Invisible Thread is a story that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.   This is another book that made me get philosophical.  The culture of poverty at work again.  And, once again, it’s not so much about the money.  It’s the opportunities, the education, even the relationships that are poor.  And that plays out into material lack.  The whole mindset has to change.  The way you believe about yourself has to change.  The way you believe about your destiny has to change:  are you a victim of your circumstances or do you control your fate?

Laura Schroff reached out to Maurice in a gesture of friendship and began a relationship that endured three decades.  She nurtured her unexpressed maternal instinct.  He grabbed a lifeline out of a culture of poverty. It’s interesting that one thing read more

  Buy now from Amazon

The Girl with No Name by Diney Costeloe

Lisa Becker was a German Jew escaping Hitler’s regime seeming sanctuary in England.  Torn from her family at age 14, the struggle to love trust and suffer loss follows her.  She faces the uncertainty of life during war time.

I liked this book.  It made me wonder about how we deal with loss, especially how children deal with loss.  Although a work of fiction, it highlighted the heroism and sacrifice of the British people during World War II.

Strangers giving homes to children is a beautiful thing.  What makes a community?  What makes a family? My mind always strays to the philosophical.

Highly recommended.

   Buy now from Amazon

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis by Izabella Wentz

This is a very through tome.  And although it ‘s written conversationally for laymen, there are parts that made my eyes glaze over.

Have read a lot of Izabella’s articles on the internet and implementing her advice, based on my experience and her recommendations, I suggest these first steps:

  1. Eliminate gluten.  This has been found to benefit a high percentage of Hashimoto’s sufferers.  It has certainly helped me.
  2. Take selenium supplements.  Start with 200 mpg and work up to 400 mpg.  Take on an empty stomach paired with Vitamin E for best absorption. I’m taking quite a few supplements and I’m convinced that this one is helping the most.
  3. Buy the book.  Yes, this is a shameless plug.  Brain fog, short term memory loss and difficulty focusing and concentrating are symptoms of Hashimoto’s, so you might need to read more                                                                                                                                                  What are you reading this month?
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Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis by Izabella Wentz

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis by Izabella Wentz

This is a very through tome.  And although it ‘s written conversationally for laymen, there are parts that made my eyes glaze over.

Have read a lot of Izabella’s articles on the internet and implementing her advice, based on my experience and her recommendations, I suggest these first steps:

  1. Eliminate gluten .  This has been found to benefit a high percentage of Hashimoto’s sufferers.  It has certainly helped me.
  2. Take selenium supplements.  Start with 200 mpg and work up to 400 mpg.  Take on an empty stomach paired with Vitamin E for best absorption. I’m taking quite a few supplements and I’m convinced that this one is helping the most.
  3. Buy the book.  Yes, this is a shameless plug.  Brain fog, short term memory loss and difficulty focusing and concentrating are symptoms of Hashimoto’s, so you might need to take it slow.  Bite sized pieces of advice from her blog are helpful, too, if you can’t handle too much at once.                                                                                                                                                            I found the book especially helpful for putting things in context and for understanding how complex this disease is.

Apparently, parasites and bacteria feed on starches and sugars and starving them is one way to get rid of them.  Antibiotics are another way.

I took two tests that confirmed that I had Hashimoto’s.  My TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) fell in the normal range.  My TPO was elevated.

I highly recommend this book to anyone suffering with Hashimoto’s.

 

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A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

I loved Katherine Reay’s first book, Lizzy and Jane.  Her second and third ones not so much.  I found this one to be slow moving.  By the end, I came to appreciate the setting and the plot was satisfying.  I can’t say I identified strongly with the characters or it was one of my all-time favorite books.

Emily Price is a professional restorer of art on assignment in Atlanta.  She meets Joseph and his brother, Ben, Italian natives that have family in Atlanta.  Emily discovers Ben and Joseph’s family differs quite a bit from her own and long buried family secrets are revealed.

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