I reached my goal of 100 books in 2018 in September. I have decided to continue to track my reads but only provide monthly updates. I created an Instagram account to track my reading in real time. Feel free to follow along @meganbyrdreads!
A second reading goal for 2018 is to read at least one book each month by a non-white author to expand my knowledge and perspective. Many months I have been able to read multiple books in this category.
A third goal was to check off the 12 different categories of books Anne Bogel (aka ModernMrsDarcy) suggests to help vary the types of books read this year. I completed that in August but will continue to list the categories for the remainder of the year.
I read 3 books in October written by a non-white author (indicated with an *). I read the following from Anne’s list: 1) a book recommended by someone with great taste (GT), 2) a memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction (NF), 3) a book by a favorite author (Fav), 4) a book in translation (BiT), 5) a book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own (Dif), and 6) a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection (PPE).
September pt. 2
101. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
This book follows a semi-dysfunctional family. Denny is the black sheep who swoops in and out of the family whenever he wishes, often moody and never dependable. Stem is the favorite of the family. The girls are busy with their own families. All of them have things that have been kept from them or they’ve kept from the family. When Abby, the mom, has memory lapses they are all together again dealing with one another. The story eventually jumps back in time to Red’s parents and the hidden truths of their relationship before ending with a little more info about Denny.
It was an okay read. No real suspense or emotions elicited. I wouldn’t recommend it.
102. The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall (GT)
Willow was a surprise child to her mother when she was in her late 50s. She found out she was pregnant right after her husband died. Willow has felt self-conscious about having an older mom (and siblings that were already grown and out of the house). She is concerned about her mother dying and does whatever she can to try to prolong her life including hiding her cigarettes. She also wants to learn her mother’s secrets before she’s no longer around to tell them.
I really enjoyed the story, especially Willows lies about her mother. I understood her view of wanting to know more about her mother and not wanting to lose her. I could also see her mother’s perspective of wanting to protect her child and also her patenting as an older parent. There was plenty of humor to cut the seriousness.
103. Scripture, Ethics, & the Possibility of Same-Sex Relationships by Karen R. Keen (NF)
The author states the various views in the church on homosexuality and whether it’s a sin or a normal but minority difference of human sexuality. She gives the traditional and progressive arguments for sexuality, the purpose of marriage, and same-sex relationships. She also gives her research into the Bible’s verses about sexuality and marriage along with the different ways the Bible’s intent is interpreted.
I found it very interesting, informative, and thought-provoking as someone who wishes to be more knowledgeable on the topic of faith and sexuality. It does not give a definitive answer but the author states what she thinks as a result of her research. I am glad that these conversations are happening.
104. The Grace Effect: What Happens When Our Brokenness Collides with God’s Grace by Kyle Idleman (NF)
This book helps us to see the practical application of grace in our lives. The author talks about hindrances to grace including the ways we try to avoid the regret that leads to repentance and grace. I appreciated his personal examples to illustrate his points. It’s only three chapters so it’s a quick read. I would be interested in reading the full version of his work Grace is Greater.
105. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The world has gone to pot. There’s an energy crisis, mass homelessness, and shortages of food. Most people spend their days on the OASIS a virtual reality that is much more pleasant than real life. The creator of OASIS died five years ago issuing a challenge to find a hidden egg in the OASIS. Whoever succeeds will inherit Halliday’s billions and ownership of OASIS. No one seems to have made any progress on the original riddle until Wade Watts finds the first key in its secret location. He soon learns that he wasn’t the first to find the location. Can he or one of the other gunters find all three keys and pass through all three gates before the Sixes of IOI (a massive organization that uses its employees to search for the egg so they can monetize the currently free OASIS)?
A very engaging story, especially because I am a bit of a geek and loved the 80s and video game references. It was interesting to see a world where most interactions are done in a virtual environment.
106. The Rock That Is Higher: Story as Truth by Madeleine L’Engle (NF) (Fav)
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but I really enjoyed it and took a lot from it. I loved Madeleine sharing her experience with writing, talking about how she writes and why she writes. I loved the explanation of the importance and purpose of story in writing. She shared how a car accident she experienced in which she was seriously injured, affected her faith and her relationship with God as well as the stories that she learned from it.
The chapters all talk about one aspect of story as she defines it: homecoming, a family affair, affirmation of God’s love, the search for truth, scripture, the Lord’s prayer, community, joy, good news, a creative act, a redemptive act, and resurrection. It was very encouraging to see how her faith intersects and is interwoven with her writing and writing life. I found it very helpful as a writer and as a Christian. It’s not a light read, but it’s a good one.
107. Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves edited by Gloria Edim* (NF) (PPE) (Dif)
This book is a series of essays by African-American women in various art fields – authors, actresses, journalists, playwrights – sharing the book that had the biggest impact on them. Often it was the first book where they saw themselves reflected back. They shared what the book (or play or poems) taught them about themselves, the world, and life.
I love books and have been impacted by many. I enjoyed hearing from other writers and hearing which books affected them. I especially enjoyed the perspective of these women because I have never struggled to find books containing white heroines and hadn’t thought much about how important it is for young readers to feel represented and be able to see themselves in these story worlds.
108. Ten Women by Marcela Serrano (translated by Beth Fowler)* (BiT) (Dif)
Nine women living in Chile are taken to an estate for a day. They do not know each other but they all see the same psychiatrist. They are invited in turn to share their individual stories with the group. The last story is that of the psychiatrist told by her assistant to inform the other women the purpose of this day in the country. Natasha, the psychiatrist, has found her long-lost sister, who is dying, and will go to her in Vietnam to spend her remaining days together.
It was interesting to hear all of the different stories of the women. Everyone has such a unique life and is affected differently by similar things. It reminded me of the importance of sharing your story with others – you may find a connecting point or be able to offer encouragement to another person.
109. The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation by Jodie Patterson* (Dif) (NF)
In this memoir, Jodie talks about the influence of her family growing up and learning what it meant to be black and a woman. She was influenced by cultural norms and had to fight through some of them to become who she wanted to be. She acquired strength and determination through the examples of the women in her life who fought for racial equality in a number of ways.
She also talks a lot about motherhood and her different experiences and growing pains in raising her kids and having a blended family. She shares openly about her struggles and growth with raising a transgendered child. She pulls together some parallels between growing up with a rebellious sister who took most of her parent’s attention and the energy and attention required to help her son navigate an unfriendly world.
I appreciated learning about her life experiences growing up as a black woman as well as being the mother in a nontraditional family.
110. Shadow of Intrigue by Christy Barritt (Fav)
Lisa is the owner of The Crazy Chefette where she puts together unusual food combinations that taste delicious. She volunteers to provide meals for Braden, a friend of Ty’s, and while she’s cooking dinner he puts her in a chokehold and threatens her. He comes by the restaurant to apologize the next day and offers to help serve food after hearing her waitress has canceled. Braden suffers from a brain injury and has blackouts. Strange things are happening on the island and signs point to Braden as the culprit but he doesn’t remember doing them. He thinks someone is trying to kill him but doesn’t know who. Can Lisa trust Braden? Who is behind the threats and criminal behavior?
I enjoyed the mystery and intrigue as well as the subtle romance. I am glad that there are more stories about Lantern Beach. They are encouraging, interesting, suspenseful, and inspiring.
What did you read this month that you would highly recommend?