What We’re Reading Now:
Catie: Only the Strong (Jabari Asim)
Christie: Nancy Clark’s Sport Nutrition Guidebook (Nancy Clark, MS, RD)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver)
Christie’s Thoughts: This book changed the way that I think about food. It was incredible and eye-opening. I can’t recommend this book more. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a nonfiction book that follows the Kingsolver family through a year of eating only local food. I learned about gardening, local eating, food preservation, the environment – this book covers all aspects of growing, preparing, buying, and eating food. READ THIS!
The Bountiful Container (Rose Marie Nichols McGee & Maggie Stuckey)
Christie’s Thoughts: This book was a great introduction to container gardening. It goes through all of the initial words you need to know, things you need to think about, and ideas for how to design your garden. The first part of the book outlines all of the basics, and the second half is organized by each plant type with information about how to plant them, take care of them, harvest them and cook them. If you are interested in container gardening, I would definitely recommend checking this out first – it really took away that “don’t know where to start” feeling that I’ve had about gardening. I will still be using this as a reference (I’ve added it to my Amazon Wish List!) for my gardening as I really get it underway in the spring!
The Casual Vacancy (J.K. Rowling)
Christie’s Thoughts: I had heard mixed reviews about this book, but obviously I needed to read J.K.’s adult book. I loved it. It was my favorite kind of book; I love books that move slow and have more subtle plot lines and this fit the bill exactly. I was pulled into the daily dramas of British small town politics and family life and couldn’t stop thinking about it – I’m still convinced that all of these characters are out there living their lives. The book is real, heartbreaking, and just an overall great read.
The Complete Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)
Christie’s Thoughts: I could not put this book down. It was so good. Satrapi does a phenomenal job of putting the reader in the position of an Iranian child/teenager/young adult coming of age in Tehran in the later part of the last century. Because this is a graphic novel, I was able to relate to a world about which I knew very little and even to understand and think critically about the bigger ideas. Even if you aren’t typically a graphic novel reader, I would highly recommend giving this book a try.
Eating Animals (Jonathan Safran Foer)
Christie’s Thoughts: This book was a horrifying and life-changing page-turner. Eating Animals is a fact-based investigation into the practices of factory farming in the United States. It is largely a fact-based book, but Foer’s ability to passionately tell his own story and draw startling comparisons are what make the book impossible to put down. There is no way to read this book and not be changed. If there was previously any question in my mind about adopting a vegetarian diet, I know now that I will not be going back to eating meat.
From Here to Eternity (James Jones)
Christie’s Thoughts: This book sat on my shelf for years because I was kind of scared to start reading it – it looked really long and intense. So, I decided to bring it on vacation and it turned out to be great – I loved it! It’s a book about the life of pre-WWII era soldiers and impossible to put down. There is no real action, but no other book has ever put me into some else’s shoes better than this one. It made me think like a different person and see the world from an entirely different perspective – this is a must read.
Harry Potter Series (J.K. Rowling)
Catie’s Thoughts: I MEAN OBVIOUSLY READ THESE.
The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 (Lionel Shriver)
Christie’s Thoughts: I went back and forth for days over whether to recommend this book or not. The story moves along slowly and includes far to much “casual conversation” about economics (I mean, at times it seemed more like a textbook), but since finishing it I find myself thinking about it a lot. The book takes place in the near future (obviously 2029) in our current world, so it makes references to current events in economics and politics which is fun and scary to think about, but there are a few too many references to things in our world (there are characters named Bing and Goog *rolls eyes*) to take the book seriously. So, in conclusion, you might give this a try if the concept of economic fiction interests you, but otherwise I’d steer clear.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan)
Christie’s Thoughts: Omnivore’s Dilemma wasn’t nearly as good as Eating Animals and wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it would be. If I was to choose one book about factory farming and the food system, this would not be it. That said, it’s a good read. I learned a lot about organic food and how it fits (or doesn’t fit) into the industrial food system. Pollan presented a different way of looking at farming, eating, and vegetarianism that was definitely thought provoking. This book made me think about parts of eating and food that I didn’t previously know that I should be thinking about.
Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
Catie’s Thoughts: This was one of Christie’s all-time favorite books, so I gave it a go (are you sensing a theme?). I really enjoyed this one. It’s a story about a family from the deep south that travels over to Africa as missionaries and their life and development as people after their experience. Barbara Kingsolver is a wonderful writer and creates the most polarizing and relatable characters. I felt like I was saying goodbye to friends that I would never see again when I got to the last page.
The Redemption of Althalus (David & Leigh Eddings)
So Much for That (Lionel Shriver)
Christie’s Thoughts: This book was so good. In true fashion, Lionel Shriver brought to light a major current issue by letting you see it through the eyes of incredibly realistic characters. This book looks at the current healthcare crisis in the United States through a story of a family dealing with a sick child and another family dealing with terminal cancer. The characters feel like friends and family members and it’s impossible not to identify with them, cheer for them, and care about them. This book is a winner for sure (read everything by Lionel Shriver – she’s great!).
The Song of the Lioness series (Tamora Pierce)
Christie’s Thoughts: This young adult quartet was one of Catie’s favorite, so obviously I had to give it a go. The books tell the story of a young girl who masquerades as a boy in order to become a knight and then follows her adventures as the only female knight in Tortall. There is fighting, magic, love, cool animals, and cultural commentary, plus the books are fast paced and featured a strong female main character. I would definitely recommend these for younger girls or anyone who wants a fun read.
Maybe Skip These:
Barefoot (Elin Hilderbrand)
Christie’s Thoughts: I thought that this was going to be a fun summer book, but it didn’t really turn out to be all that fun. Barefoot tells the story of a group of women who spend the summer on Nantucket to get away from their lives – one is sick, one has legal trouble, and the other has relationship trouble. It sounds like it could be great, but it was just kind of boring. I don’t really even have anything else to say about it. It wasn’t that I hated the book, I just think that there are a lot better books worth reading out there (despite the “National Bestseller” assertion on the cover).
The Best American Mystery Stories 2005 (Joyce Carol Oates & Otto Penzler)
Christie’s Thoughts: It’s rare that I don’t finish reading a book, but that’s what happened with this one. The book is a compilation of short stories and after reading half the book, there were only a couple that I thought were decent. Since these are supposed to be the best short mystery stories written in 2005, I would assume that the stories were actually fine, but that this style isn’t my cup of tea. Even taking that into consideration, though, I wouldn’t waste my time reading this – read one of the awesome books listed above.
The Inheritance Cycle (Christopher Paolini)
Catie’s Thoughts: This series is definitely not very high up on the intellectual scale, but it’s one of my favorites from when I was younger. It’s your pretty classic coming of age fantasy series complete with dragons, elves, and evil kings. It started out as a trilogy, but the author (Christopher Paolini) couldn’t get all of the story out in 3 books so it became a quartet. I’ve heard whispers of a 5th book, but the 4th installment was published in 2011 so I won’t hold my breath. It pains my inner 12 year old to say it, but I would skip these unless you’re a diehard YA Fantasy lover.
The Sports Gene (David Epstein)
Christie’s Thoughts: It’s not that this book is bad – I actually liked it a lot and learned SO MUCH. I was still talking about it on our run 2 days after finishing it. That said, it is very dry and science heavy so I don’t think most people would enjoy reading it. While the book has some anecdotes that help to make it flow a little bit better, most of it details specific research studies and their outcomes. If you have a particular interest in Exercise Science research, you should read this right now. If you don’t, I would spend my time reading something else.
The Tao of Running (Gary Dudney)
Christie’s Thoughts: This book left a lot to be desired. I’m not sure how this book got published or sold to me in a Barnes & Noble. Based on the title and the explanation on the back of the book, I thought it was going to be about how to use mindfulness in your running and how this person has viewed running as a transformative experience. It wasn’t about that at all. The book was somewhat about ultra-running (which was why I even kept reading it), but jumped from topic to topic just giving a little bit of information about each thing before moving on. Some of the stories about ultra-races were cool, but that was really the only redeeming aspect of the book. I would definitely skip this!