Quick Lit~ late spring edition

what i'm reading in 2015  nicolevbennett.com During my little absence from my blog, you can bet I've been doing quite a bit of reading.

It's been a particularly good couple of months of reading in fact, and it seemed like it was about time to share all the good things I've read since my last Quick Lit post.

I do have to confess that I have all but given up on Les Miserables, which was the book choice for the book club. I still want to read it, but there's no way I'm going to finish by June which was the original goal. I don't know what it is exactly, but the easy answer is that I just keep getting distracted by easier books.

the Rosie Effect

 The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

This is the fun sequel to The Rosie Project, which I read last year and loved. While I didn't quite enjoy this one as much as the first, it was still quite entertaining and captivating.

There's just something about Don Tillman's narration that makes for easy and smooth reading, despite him being quite a technical and logical character. I'm still excited to see Don and Rosie in film format someday, since I know Simsion has worked on a screenplay for the The Rosie Project.


A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet

A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson

I bought this book on a Kindle-deal whim. I had put it on my to-read list a while before but didn't know much about it. When I saw it on a friend's IG feed and then saw it for cheap or free (I don't remember which), I snatched it up, which turned out to be a good grab. I really enjoyed reading it, and it got me realizing that I really love reading memoir before bed, because it's the kind of thing that I can stop any time, and while thoroughly enjoyable, it doesn't tempt me to stay up till 2am to see what happens next, like a novel. This was a sweet read, and while I had never read Sophie's blog before, I enjoyed her writing style and stories immensely-- a nice blend of laugh-out-loud funny and cut-to-the-heart moments.


UnbrokenUnbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I've been on a bit of a WWII kick, sort of by accident. Reading this book felt really monumental. It explored a side of the war that I felt like I didn't know much about (the Pacific war), and gave me a serious dose of perspective when I considered all Louie Zamperini went through when I was having a "hard day" of parenting. The way Ms. Hillenbrand writes is downright captivating. She masterfully presents all her incredible research into what reads like a page-turning novel. I still haven't watched the movie yet because-- I'll be honest-- I'm a bit nervous to see it, knowing how intense the story is. But to say I was inspired by Zamperini's life, would be an understatement. Reading this made me wish my grandpa, who served in the Pacific during WWII, was still alive to talk to, and it also gave me a sobering education as Memorial Day approached.


What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

When I started this book, I didn't really know what it was about, which I'm kinda glad about. As the story developed, and I figured out what was going on, I fell in love with both the whole idea and the characters, and basically couldn't put it down until I finished. I conveniently read it over Mother's Day weekend which meant I didn't feel bad reading it all day long essentially. ;) Not only did this novel captivate me, but it got me thinking about my own life, which I think is a good sign of great writing. I'm looking forward to reading more of Ms. Moriarty books now, and recommending this one left and right. Last weekend I picked up a copy as a garage sale for $1 (score!) because I knew it was one I would want to re-read and loan out to friends.


Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands by Paul David Tripp

David and I have been leading a community group for about six years, and this is a book that I wish I'd read oh, about six years ago. In my opinion, it's a must read for anyone in ministry or leading any kind of small group or really just living in Christian community with other believers. It's a wonderful resource for iron-sharpening-iron kind of living, and for believers who want to share wise Biblical counsel with one another and be living out the gospel. I'm so glad our church leadership handed this one out to community group leaders and I'm sure I'll be referencing it for years to come. Tripp uses lots of stories and hypothetical situations to convey his points which makes the information really come alive.


comforts from the crossComforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Elyse has become one of my favorite gospel-centered authors. This book is a simple devotional-- just 31 days' worth of reading, that points us to what Jesus did on the cross for us, and how that applies to our everyday life.

I read this one while making my coffee over the last several weeks and it was a really great way to start the day.


little hands and hearts

Never Say NoNever Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman

I've read a lot of parenting books, but I think what I like most about this book is what its tagline proclaims, it's about "raising big-picture kids." And that's exactly the kind of book it is. This isn't a nitty-gritty how-to-parent book, it's a big-picture look at parenting, and about raising children who love the Lord and who are fully living out who God created them to be.

Let me go a little fangirl on ya and say that I've loved Switchfoot since they were college kids (and I was in high school), playing on a virtually empty corner of the local street fair. I have every album and have probably seen at least a dozen of their shows. But what's always stood out to me is that the band members seem to have integrity and have, over the years, created quality work that reflected their values and beliefs but appealed to a broad audience (which just happens to be a quality I aspire to  in my writing). So to read first-hand how the brothers were raised has been a real special experience. Mark Foreman pastors a church just up the street from mine, and while he and his church might vary a bit theologically from mine, he comes across in this book as someone who genuinely loves Jesus and deeply desired to follow Him as he and Jan raised their children. Thanks to Litfuse for this review copy; I've really enjoyed this book.

Currently reading:

So that's it! I'd love to know your thoughts on any of these books or hear what you've been reading. I'm pretty sure every book on this list was one recommended by a friend-- that's why I love sharing book lists and reading others'.

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Quick lit 2015, first edition, part 2

i have a weakness for hot right now books Do you go through phases with your reading speed? Sometimes, I'm racing to finish a novel, and then when I do, I feel like I can't quite jump into a new one yet.

It's like I need some time to let the characters hang out in my mind a bit longer before I move on. I get really attached to characters, and then I have a hard time letting them go.  I suppose that's a sign of a good book. It happened to me this past weekend with my most-recently finished book.

(I post quite a bit about books here on the blog. If you find yourself looking for a friendly kick in the pants to up your own reading, I have just the thing for you. Download my free ebook, Read More, today for instant inspiration on the why and how.)

And now for part two of this year's books read so far (in order read). And I'll tell you what I'm reading right now too, because I know you're dying to know. ;)

what i'm reading in 2015  nicolevbennett.com


The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

I have a weakness for the "hot right now" bookshelf at the library (that shelf beckons to me with a challenge and calls me "chicken" until I snatch a book off it), and also for books that have been made into movies. If I know I might see the movie, I find myself needing to read the book first. I also love books about food and food cultures and foreign countries. So basically this was a perfect book for me. It had some slow parts, and in some ways I liked the movie better, but overall, a good read.


 The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I really loved this book. I think I usually prefer stories that happen over a shorter time span (shorter than half a life anyway), but I really loved journeying through A.J.'s life. The characters were so well-developed in this book and there was a bit of a mysterious thread of a story running through it. It had a lot of wonderful literary references, too, the majority of which were short stories I've never read, and now want to.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Such a fun little book to read, with all of its Japanese culture references and its funny little stories of young Marie's "tidying" escapades. And of course, like pretty much everyone else who has read this, I have completely overhauled my clothes-folding system and my dresser will never be the same. It's amazing. I haven't ventured further than clothes with her methods but she's got some awesome ideas for simpler home organization (hint: it starts with getting rid of a lot of stuff).


I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I adored this book. Thank you, Anne, for recommending it. I saw the movie ten years ago, and did not know it was a book until last year. I completely loved Cassandra's narrating style (it's written as her journal); she completely captured me (see what I did there?) with her coming-of-age story. It almost read like a Jane Austen but with a setting a century and a half later. Unrelated bonus points for me for getting a reference to medieval English history in it that I never would have gotten before studying the middle ages with Gigi this year. This is a book to buy and add to my personal shelves.


 

Read aloud to the kiddos: Little House on the Prairie (we all loved it, I need to buy the next book!)

Currently reading:

Part 1 of this edition of Quick Lit can be found here.

Lovely friends, I'd love to know what you're reading these days!

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Quick lit 2015, first edition, part 1

what i'm reading in 2015  nicolevbennett.com I can't believe we're almost three months in to 2015 and I haven't posted a summary of what I've been reading for you! I've already read some really good books, and I'm knee deep in a few more. Quick lit is my favorite way to share books with you because I can squeeze so much into one post-- okay, maybe 2 posts in this case. ;)

So here are the books I've read so far in 2015, in order finished.


You are a Writer  by Jeff Goins

This was a quick read, and a veritable kick in the pants. Just what I needed honestly. I'm always inspired by what Jeff writes. I'm still working on acting like a writer, but at least now I'm not afraid to call myself one, after reading this.


Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

I was thrilled to read Katherine Reay's second novel since I loved Dear Mr. Knightly so much. This one didn't disappoint. It was a captivating story, albeit not exactly what I was expecting. Lizzy & Jane explores the depths of family relationships, a bit of sweet romance, food, and fighting adversity.


Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

The book club bled over into 2015 for me as I wrapped up my last Jane novel in early January. It took me longer than I expected to get through S&S this time, but I still loved it. Recently I rewatched the Hugh Grant/Emma Grant movie version and remembered how well done it was-- Kate Winslet's Marianne is so spot on.


The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Mayes

Another great novel by Mayes. This one was a story of survival in German-occupied WWI France, within a modern tale of unlikely love and legal turmoil. I loved the juxtaposition of the two heroines as they fought their way through their own struggles.


Bossypants by Tina Fey

This was my first foray into audiobooks. I dabbled a little with some LibriVox recordings of Jane Austen's novels, but this one I checked out through OverDrive and my library. Honestly, having Tina Fey read her book made it for me. It was slow getting in to it. I wasn't really into the first third, but I loved it after that as she got more into her career and family stories.


The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

This book moved and challenged and inspired me in so many ways. It's all about finding your calling in life and it just wasn't really what I was expecting (in the best sort of way). Jeff doesn't just talk about himself for a couple hundred pages. Throughout the book he tells stories of real people and how they've found their callings through their life journey.  I can't recommend this one enough.


I really want to get this post out to you today, so I'm going to stop here and wrap up the rest in a part two. Got to get some homeschooling and life-living done now!

Read Part 2 and more great reads (including what I'm currently reading) here.

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Books to read in 2015 (with lots of room for adding in more)

15 books I want to read in 2015 I don't really like to try my hand at predicting how things will turn out. I prefer, rather, to leave lots of wiggle room and see how things play out on their own. Examples: hearts, rather than spades, homeschool planning, and well, reading lists.

The minute I saw Anne's 2015 Reading Challenge, I knew it was the perfect list for me. I don't like to be too pinned down to a reading list because I never know what books are going to show up on the "hot now" or the holds shelf for me at the library, and I often add random books to my Kindle simply because they are on sale or free.

The great thing about this challenge is that it's not a specific list of books to read, but rather (fun) categories. I've chosen books that can fit in this list that I already have been wanting to read, with lots of room for spontaneous reads.

Have you taken on Anne's challenge? Here's some of what I'm planning to read this year.

A book you've been meaning to read

the read-aloud handbook

A book published this year

the art of work

A book in a genre you don't typically read

Louise Penny

  • Still Life by Louise Penny (and maybe more in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series-- I haven't read mystery since my Nancy Drew days)

A book from your childhood

harriet the spy

A book your mom loves

believing God

  •  Believing God by Beth Moore (my mom loves Beth Moore (as do I!) -- she's done the study version of this book, and I picked this up free for Kindle a few months ago)

A book originally written in another language

les mis

A book "everyone" has read but you

bossypants

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey (I'm listening to this one)

A book you chose because of the cover

the storied life of a.j. fikry

A book by a favorite author

royal wedding

  • Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot (guilty pleasure? maybe, but I've read the whole series :) )

A book recommended by someone with great taste

The secret keeper

  • The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (recommended by more than one fried with great taste)

A book you should've read in high school

jane eyre

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (I'm ashamed to say, I started in H.S. English but never finished)

A book currently on the bestseller list

all the light we cannot see

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Great chapter books for 2nd-5th grade: Gigi's 7-year old summer reading challenge

summer reading challenge-1 We're about a month into summer, and since school got out, boy has reading clicked on a deeper level for Gigi.

I don't think it's a coincidence that right around the end of the school year we found out Gigi was farsighted, and needed glasses. She's been reading and writing fine, but all this time she actually had a hard time seeing up close.

So maybe it's the glasses that helped her really dive into reading chapter books, or maybe it was also the challenge I presented her with as summer began.

(We're still using our summer learning plan as a guide but we're not totally adhering to it every day.)

At the end of first grade, Gigi was able to read chapter books but also a little lazy and unfocused with them. Giving her a specific challenge helped her have some motivation to start a book... and finish it. Now, she's been devouring books-- staying up late to finish with a flashlight and reading in the car.

She's been so excited to start new books that she has still had a hard time sticking to one at a time (where on earth could she get that from??). I keep telling her that when she's older like me, she can read lots of books at once. But I'm trying to encourage her to stick to one at a time to help her comprehension.

I still have to remind her to actually pick up a book and read because she's easily distracted (by Legos, her desire to play with friends, etc), but she's not longer putting up a fight most of the time.

summer reading challenge-2

The challenge

I told Gigi if she read fifteen chapter books, she would earn a $15 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Lucky for her, her two grandmas said they would each match that. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

Gigi's summer reading challenge

I'm now certain that she will surpass my challenge, no problem (and I'm excited to see how many books she ends up finishing this summer). I originally planned to print out and hang up the list, but I think she enjoys going on my computer to type the books into the Word document as much as she enjoys finishing a book. ;)

Finding books at the right reading level

Since Gigi is mostly homeschooled, I didn't have an exact reading level given by the school to go off. I emailed her reading teacher from the learning center and got a few recommendations based on what they had read in class. The first books she was interested in reading on her own were the American Girl books, so I did a little research and found that they were about a 5th grade reading level.

From there, I researched other books that were about the same reading level, but were a subject matter that a 2nd-grade girl would be interested in. The trick I'm learning, from other moms of advanced readers, is that sometimes it's hard to match reading level with content appropriateness. We're not really there yet but that's something I want to be aware of-- so that I don't end up with her reading Flowers in the Attic in 5th grade like I did (seriously? That's supposed to be an appropriate kids' book??).

And I'm trying to steer her towards more classics than fluff (like those rainbow fairy books she always gravitates toward at the library-- those are off-limits for now, until she's ingested some of the good stuff).

great chapter books for grades 2-5

Here are the books I ended up setting up as valid for the challenge. I'm sure there are lots more great ones to add to this list (I'd love to hear 'em if you have 'em!).

I'm so proud of what she's already accomplished. The more I get to know how God made Gigi, the more I see that likes to rise to a challenge... and she also loves earning rewards.

How do you encourage summer reading? What books would you add to my list?

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Early summer reading {twitterature}

what I'm reading in early summer Normally I share a few things making me happy on Fridays. Today as I thought what my list would look like, I kept going back to books. Naturally my list would have more than three items on it, since I rarely read just one-- or even three-- books at one time.

So I'm taking a break to join my friend Anne, at Modern Mrs. Darcy, in her monthly Twitterature meme. What's Twitterature? Simple. It's just a post of short, tweet-like book reviews of around 140 characters.

twitterature-graphic1

So here's what my summer reading is looking like so far.

Recently...

Confessions of a Shopaholic

by Sophie Kinsella

A fun summer read with a clever plot and lots of British vocabulary, this is classic chick lit with a very flawed yet endearing protagonist.


 

Persuasion

by Jane Austen

I remembered little about it and thoroughly enjoyed this Austen novel. It moved quicker than I expected and featured an heroine I really liked.


 

It Won't be Yoga

by Melissa Camara Wilkins

Motherhood at its finest: a mom of five tries in-home yoga alongside her kiddos and describes the mayhem that ensues. Written by a real-life blog friend.


 

Baby Steps

by Mara Altman

A funny-- if crude & crass-- memoir of one woman's quest: to enter motherhood or not. My main draw to this was that a high school friend wrote it. Coming from a very different worldview than my own, it was thought-provoking and entertaining.


 

Currently...

Emma

by Jane Austen

The first Austen novel I ever read is even better than I remembered, especially after I've been so enjoying Emma Approved. Join us in the book club as we read this one.


 

Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

by Sophie Kinsella

The humor and cleverness continues, but I can only take so much shopping. Becky Bloomwood is wearing on me so this will probably be the last I read in this series.


 

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Meeting me right where I'm at in my search to embrace, refine and better direct my own creativity. I'm loving this one, and I'll be sharing more about it.


 

The Discipline of Grace: God's Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness

by Jerry Bridges

Teaching me lots about grace, the gospel, and the pursuit of holiness, this is my go-to book to start the day with, and I'm learning a lot. Looking forward to discussing it with my small group this summer.


 

Coming up:

I recently checked out Mindy Kaling's book and Madeleine L'Engle's Walking on Water, and I just got notification that my digital copy of JoJo Moyes' Me Before You is ready, so those are next on my list to crack.

What are you reading these days? I don't need any more books on my to-read list... but I can't stop adding them. ;)

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