Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Books: Year In Review (part 4 of 6)

I have never really considered myself a "reader." I know how to read and I have read some amazing things in my lifetime, but given the choice between sitting down and reading a book or doing anything else, I usually choose anything else. This past year (and mostly during the last six months) I decided to be more intentional about reading. I didn't make any lofty goals to plow through the classics or anything like that. I just wanted to practice the art of sitting still and reading- even if it was light and often fluffy reading. The following is a list of the books I have read this past year.

The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death -by Laurie Notaro

I have been a fan of Laurie Notaro for several years now, probably because she writes short, humorous, anecdotal stories about things that, as far as I know, have really happened to her. The first book of her's that I read was I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl and I found it to be eerily familiar. I almost felt like I was reading something I wrote, right down to the way she would repeat things in capital letters. IN CAPITAL LETTERS! Anyway, I've been reading her books ever since. This one was mostly fun but actually contained a very touching account of the loss of her dog- wow, there were tears. Overall a great read- a perfect bathroom book, if you know what I mean.

Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (and Other Lies I Tell My Children -by Susan Konig

My mom found this at a used book sale and sent it to me. I'm usually a little turned off by "mommy humor" but this book thoroughly surprised me. It was just sarcastic and cynical enough for me to enjoy it. The author does a great job conveying the love she has for her family without treating motherhood like it's always some beautiful thing filled with sunshine and roses. There was something kind of down and dirty about the way she told her real life stories that I just loved. I plan on seeking out her other book, I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family in the near future.

Knitting: A Novel -by Anne Bartlett

This was another surprising little ditty from the aforementioned used book sale. I wouldn't say it was a perfect novel but the fact that knitting actually played an important role in the story was pretty cool. I think this book's biggest strength is its quirky characters. They are engaging and delightful- the kind of people you would want to get to know in real life. Overall, a charming little book.

Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House -by Haven Kimmel

I absolutely loved this author's autobiographical book, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland, Indiana, as well as the follow-up book, She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana. So, naturally, when I found out she had written a book for young readers, I was curious. The story is about a young boy dealing with his parents' divorce but it's not emotionally draining or uncomfortable. I really felt like the author remembered that she was writing for kids and somehow managed to maintain a believable child-like perspective with the main character. This is the kind of story that a young person might read and just enjoy for its whimsical moments but look back on years later with a more mature understanding of what was being said between the lines.

Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously -by Adrienne Martini

The title alone was enough to hook me. I was truly inspired by this book. I don't think I'll be knitting my own Mary Tudor any time soon but this book did play a role in convincing me that it was time to figure out how to turn the heel on the pair of socks that had been sitting on my needles untouched for months. I would warn anyone interested in reading this book that the author does have some strong opinions about certain things that she very openly includes throughout the book. While she does not share my world view, I cannot deny that she is a wonderful storyteller and an accomplished knitter.

Axe Cop -by Malachai Nicolle and Ethan Nicolle

Okay, so technically I have only read Episodes 1 - 53, which means I have some serious catching up to do. Before ComicCon back in July, I decided that I shouldn't be allowed to attend the largest gathering of freaks, geeks, and nerds again without having officially read a comic book. I chose Axe Cop because I loved the concept (even though technically it's a web comic, I decided it counts). It is written by a five year old and illustrated by his 29 year old brother. How could it not be epic?! If you haven't already checked it out, you should.

Truck -by Michael Perry

I picked this book up out of the bargain bin at my local Barnes & Noble because I loved the cover. When I read the blurb on the back, I knew my $1 was going to be well spent. This book exceeded my expectations by a long shot. Basically it's the autobiographical story of a guy fixing up his old International pick-up truck intertwined with the love story that unfolds between him and his now wife. This book made me long for a more simple, slow-paced, small town kind of life. If I ever pack up and move to rural Wisconsin, this book might have something to do with it.

Coop -by Michael Perry

I sought out this book right after I finished reading the Truck book. I was so excited when I found out this guy had written other books because I was pretty sure I was going to like all of them. I was not disappointed by this lovely account of an attempt at farm life. Anyone who can make pigs eating a dead rabbit sound poetic is a master of words as far as I'm concerned. I laughed, I cried, it moved me.

Scrooge and Santa -by Matthew Wilson and Josh Kenfield

I was required to read this book because I'm married to the illustrator. If you're into graphic novels and Christmas stories, this book is for you. This is a fun read for all ages- buy one now and get a jump on next year's holiday shopping!

A Show of Hands -by Anthony McCarten

Yet another bargain bin find. This was an interesting novel about a group of people who are competing in an endurance contest to win a brand new car. I didn't really love it, but I didn't hate it either. Meh.

Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. -by Kevin DeYoung

This book profoundly affected how I think about God's will. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt angst over just trying to do what God wants them to do. I have heard this book described as a simplified, condensed version of the ideas found in the more weighty, Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View by Garry Friesen, which I have yet to dive into. Go find this book, I'm sure it will make you think about some important things.

Spooky Little Girl: A Novel -by Laurie Notaro

I have to admit that I don't love Laurie Notaro's novels quite as much as I love her autobiographical essay compilations but this one felt much more planned out than her first one. I was particularly impressed by how she set up and explained the rules of this world. The main character is unexpectedly killed very early in the book and then we follow her through her ghost training and then on to her ghost mission. Colorful characters, imaginative story, good times.

Ghostopolis -by Doug Tennapel

I felt like it was high time I actually read one of Doug's books so that I could discuss it with my husband who has been a huge fan for a long time. I was actually a little surprised by how charming the story ended up being. It is a clear focused plot and the art is very cool. I look forward to reading the rest of the Tennapel graphic novels so that I can have lots of intelligent conversations next year at ComicCon.

Population 485 -by Michael Perry

I'm still working my way through this book which was written before the other two book's of Michael Perry's that I have read. It has a very different feel but I'm still enjoying it. I'm learning a lot about what goes through the mind of a first responder/volunteer firefighter. Interesting stuff.

Why We're Not Emergent (by Two Guys Who Should Be) -by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

I'm slowly trudging my way through this book. It's not quite as engaging as I hoped it would be but I do plan on finishing it. So far, I agree with a lot of what the authors are saying but I'm not exactly sure where they're going with all of it. We'll see.

Yay for a year of reading! Here's to next year- may it be full of even more new insights and silly stories.

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