I was sitting in a meeting this afternoon next to a new young teacher. He can’t be more than 22 or 23 years old. I was waiting for the meeting to begin, and while I waited I sat with my nose in a book, as usual. He politely asked what I was reading, and when I told him a little bit about it, he kind of snorted and went back to sorting through emails. “I don’t have time to read,” he said smugly. “There’s too many important things to be doing.”
Now, I’m sure he didn’t mean this to come off as snotty as it did. Or maybe he did, who knows? But I thought about that comment on my way home from work today. I used to think just like him. I never had time to read. I stopped even buying book or visiting the library for the few years after college, convinced that life had more for me to deal with than plot lines and character diagrams. But then, sometime after graduate school, I realized that the more stressful my life became, the more reading helped me stay grounded and focused. Yes, I could have been checking my email in that downtime before the meeting. I probably could have graded some papers or looked over my lesson for tomorrow. But, really, why? When given the choice between taking a 10 minute break with a book or a 10 minute frantic email exchange, I’ll take the book any day.
I am a book lover. Always have been. Always will be. I love all kinds of books – classics, contemporary, action, sci-fi, romance, young adult, non-fiction, historical fiction, religious, political, fantasy, realism… GIVE ME ALL THE BOOKS!
When I started teaching middle school, I made a deal with my students that I would read one of their books and then one of mine. It’s been four years now and I still follow that principle. I usually read one more adult book and then one young adult novel so that I can talk with them about what they are reading, and they love for me to tell them about the adult books I read.
Aside from my students, I get a lot of book recommendations from my Grandma and my friend, Sarah. My Grandmother is really who taught me to make time for reading. No matter how busy she has been in her life, she never was more than arms length away from a book. I can remember seeing her sitting up until all hours of the night (she always has been a night owl – something else we have in common), perched on the edge of her seat. She never read lazily, all sprawled out in bed or in a comfy chair like most people. Grandma sits straight up with the book in her lap, bent completely over with her face right in between the pages, as if she is trying to keep the words from flying off the page. I have always loved that because, like her, I don’t want to miss a word.
Since high school, whatever book recommendations I’ve gotten that didn’t come from my grandma came from my sweet friend, Sarah. Sarah taught me how to read FAST. She reads faster than anyone I know, and before she even has one finished, she has a stack of new books sitting by her bed (or her desk… or on the guest bedroom nightstand… or in the backseat of her car…). And Sarah reads without limitations. No book or topic is off limits for her, and I have always loved that. She has introduced me to so many different kinds of books, and the conversations that we always had about them opened my mind up to new ways of thinking. If you don’t have an intellectual friend like Sarah, you should get one. They are way more interesting than having dumb friends.
All of this is to say that we make time for what matters, and reading matters to me. I read in the early morning hours before anyone else in my house wakes up. I read between classes and at red lights. I read on Sunday afternoons during nap time and on Tuesday nights while I wait for my Bible study class to begin. I read propped up in bed, perched on a tabletop in my classroom, snuggled under my favorite blanket in my chair in the living room, sprawled out on the couch in my home office, sitting in my driveway in my car while my kids nap, waiting in the doctors office, in between aisles on the floor of a bookstore, in the passenger seat of our car on road trips, in a float in my pool, and just about any other place you can haul a book.
I love being able to explore new places in the pages of a book. To meet new people in the colorful language of an author. To laugh or cry with someone I don’t even know – and sometimes with people that don’t even exist! Reading broadens my viewpoints and lowers my blood pressure.
Having said all of that, I thought I’d share the last 10 books I have read in the past few months and give you my super official, highly important, five-star ratings of them, just in case you, too, have been bitten by a book worm. I’m not going to go into detail on plots because you can read those on Amazon, but I can tell you at least why I liked them and why I didn’t…
1. Allegiant – This is the third in the “Divergent” series. If you haven’t read them, do it. I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like at least “Divergent.” This one got mixed reviews from the people I talked to, but I really liked it. Keep the tissues at hand, though…
STAR RATING: 4 out of 5
2. Lone Wolf – I have read several of Jodi Picoult’s books and really enjoyed them (ever read “Nineteen Minutes?” Wowza.). This one was still really well written and had a great plot line, but I wasn’t crazy about the characters. There wasn’t anyone that I really latched onto, and so through the whole story I felt a little disconnected. It dealt with a few really heavy topics, though, and it was a good read. Just not quite my style.
STAR RATING: 2 out of 5
3. Sutton – This was my first time reading a book by J.R. Moehringer, and it was excellent. He is a talented writer, and now I’m looking for something else by him. Sarah recommended “The Tender Bar,” and I already ordered it from Amazon. Plus, this guy is a Yale graduate – BOOLAH! BOOLAH! Anyway, this book is about a 1920’s bank robber and is based on a true story. It was fantastic!
STAR RATING: 5 out of 5
4-7. Books 1-4 of the Mortal Instruments Series – There are 5 in this series, but I haven’t read the last one yet. These are young adult novels, and you can really tell. The plot lines are fairly predictable (though really good!) and the characters are young and impulsive. But if you can get past those things, the stories themselves are pretty good. They get a little weird at the end of the 1st book and into the 2nd, but if you push past it, it gets better. They are about all kinds of other worldly creatures – vampires, fairies, werewolves, demons, etc. I really like the fantasy/sci-fi genre, so these were right up my alley.
STAR RATING: 3 out of 5
8. The Wolf of Wall Street – I didn’t finish this one. It was a little too… um… well, too much for me. Lots of drugs. Lots of sex. Lots of everything. I’m not a prude when it comes to what I read, but this one seemed to be just too much in my face. I wanted to read it because they are making a movie out of it staring Leonardo DiCaprio, and I love the movies he makes. But this one was not my cup of tea. It is about a Wall Street tycoon from the 1980’s who works his way to the top and then plummets when the stock market crashed a few years ago.
STAR RATING: 2 out of 5
9. Serena – Whoa. Talk about violence. But this time the subject matter is just written better, and so the violence didn’t bother me so much. It is the story of a lumber company out West during the 1930’s. It follows the owner of the company and his incredibly feisty, bold, and almost evil wife, Serena. Such a good story line! And the writing is fantastic! This one is also being made into a movie with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as the main couple.
STAR RATING: 5 out of 5
10. In the Kingdom of Men – I loved this book. I could hardly put it down. The plot is what is so fantastic. I’ve never read anything else like it. It’s about this young couple from Texas who follow an oil job in the 1960’s to Saudi Arabia. The book is told from the wife’s point of view and follows her life on the American oil compound in this really dangerous and explosive area of the world. There are plot twists in this book that I never saw coming. It was a fun read!
STAR RATING: 5 out of 5
If you want to keep up with what I’m reading, follow me on GoodReads. I log all my books in there and give them star ratings. I update it every time I begin or finish a book. My user name is KatieMC. Or, follow me on Instagram. I log everything I read there with the hashtag #MCreads. My user name is MarriageConfessions.