#MCreads

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

419rhq8B1LL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

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

Untitled

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.

Related posts

28 Thoughts to “#MCreads”

  1. Beth

    I bawled like a baby at the end of Allegient. All good things must come to and end right? I love them though and own all 3 on my nook so my daughter can read them in a couple years (I think 12 is still too young for them).
    Thanks for the recommendations Katie, can’t wait to check out a few of them!
    I love reading too. It is my most favorite activity. I want my kids to see me love reading so it will encourage them to love reading. My husband is not a reader but that’s ok. I can definitely read enough for 10 people!

  2. Liz McC.

    Thank you for this post! I love to read and just haven’t had time recently to pick up a book. Now I have some good suggestions to head to the library!

  3. I am so jealous of the books you’ve read! After Yale, I was a bit burnt out on reading and since Nate was born I haven’t had time. The only thing I’m reading lately is The Reason I Jump. It’s a nonfiction book written by a thirteen year old boy in Japan who is autistic and nonverbal. He chose to answer about 76 questions that he thought people would like to know about himself and his life. It’s great insight for me into Nate’s little world and is beautifully translated by a respected journalist whose child is also autistic. Pretty amazing and a quick read. Because it’s a series of questions, an answer or two may be read quickly and they don’t need to be read in order.

  4. Reading keeps me sane. No doubt about that. I need to escape sometimes and reading lets me do that.

  5. LIssa

    I adore books too! Watch for this book coming in the spring (written by my daughter’s BF) YA book called Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer. I can’t wait 🙂

  6. Hilary

    I have been trying to read more as well – my seventh graders are loving “The Fault in Our Stars” right now (my “student pick”) and I totally adored it. It was my first time reading John Greene. Hoping the movie does the book justice. My adult pick is from a colleague and I also couldn’t put it down: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. Sooo good! I’m also reading “The Power of a Praying Parent” by Stormie Omartian. So many books, so little time! Arg!

  7. Cathrine

    Try reading any thing by Joshiilyn Jackson! She is from Pensacola and a fabulous writer. Ok. Maybe do not read her first book until later, because she gets better with each book. Try a grown up kind of pretty first. Then go back and read her others.

  8. This list came at the perfect time! I was just looking for something new to read. I go through spells where all I want to do is read, but then I can go a few weeks without reading anything.

  9. Love the list! Also I totally agree about Wolf of Wallstreet. I picked it up for the same reason as you, and I am pretty unflappable. I have no issues with drugs, sex, or violence (in media) and some of my favorite movies are things like Pulp Fiction and Snatch. And yet… yea… no. There is just only so many times you can hear about a guy talk about his wife’s rear end before you puke in your mouth a little and have to give up.

  10. Tracy B

    Have you read The Book Thief? It’s a young adult novel so your students would also love it! It’s the story of a young girl in Germany during WWII and it is narrated by Death. I know that sounds weird, but this book is beautifully and brilliantly written. It’s about to become a movie so you must, must, must, read it before the movie comes out!

    Here’s the link to it on Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Book-Thief-Markus-Zusak/dp/0375842209/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384835157&sr=1-1&keywords=the+book+thief

  11. BeccaK

    I love the recommendations! Have you heard of World Book Night (http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/)? They pick some great books every year and give them out for FREE around the country. I participated as a Giver (you sign up online, and it sounds right up your alley) last year for the first time, and it was a lot of fun. This year, I really enjoyed a few of the books on the list that you might also enjoy. Check out these ones, if you haven’t already read them, and think about signing up to give some out for free!

    Some of my favorites from this year’s list (in the order listed on the WBN website): The Weird Sisters (Eleanor Brown), Ranger’s Apprentice (John Flanagan – YA/fantasy), Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson – I think everyone bawled over this as a child!), Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs – YA/fantasy), Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (Maria Semple), Wild (Cheryl Strayed), Code Name Verity (Elizabeth Wein – one of the best plot twists, EVER).

    1. Carlene

      YES to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children for middle schoolers! There’s even pictures in it, which may help sway some more visual learners.

      And YES to Where’d You Go, Bernadette! Its a pretty light read, but wonderfully real characters. The author was on the writing teams at both 30 Rock and Arrested Development, if you’re into those shows.

  12. Lee Ann

    At 96, my grandmothe still reads everything she can get in her hands! It’s so funny … she is deaf as can be (hearing aids are no help) and can’t hear a thing. I’ll go to visit, and I can stand at her front door, seeing her sitting inside on the sofa, just reading away. No matter how long I ring the doorbell, she just reads and reads. It’s almost as if she’s ignoring me, ha, ha! It’s sweet to see her enjoy something so much. I guess that’s where I get my love of reading, which I consider one of the best gifts in the world.

  13. Carlene

    I have always been a big reader, I can’t get on a train, plane, car, hot air balloon, or subway without something to read, and there’s always a Kindle in my purse (though I love new book smell, the Kindle can’t be beat for affordability and portability).

    Lately I’ve been on a contemporary fiction kick. Anything by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake, in particular is a favorite. Anita Diamant, Khaled Housseini are favorites too.

    If you like feeling smart, I highly recommend anything by Mary Roach! She writes very humorously about the science behind common things: cadavers, taste buds, the Space Race, sex, etc.

  14. Amy

    Please keep blogging about your reading list! I read, ALOT, and I get stuck in these young adult book series and never get out. I love them, but it’s hard to find other good books. I don’t have a friend who can recommend adult reading so this list helps me greatly!

  15. Farrar

    I may have already suggested this, but:
    I. LOVE. THE. OUTLANDER. SERIES!!! By Diana Gabaldon. The first book is a little slow to start but I tell everyone this if you make it to about Chapt 5 you are HOOKED! They are making it into a series on Starz that I am sure won’t measure up to my expectations, but this is my go-to series. I re-read and re-read them!! Anyways, just my little suggestion if you haven’t already read them and are looking for a great book!

    Farrar

  16. Farrar

    Also – sorry to double post – but I feel like I know you dear imaginary friend. I am reading the Miss Julia series right now by Ann B. Ross. They are hillarious. I haven’t recommended them to many of my friends b/c the main character is a 70 year old Presbyterian (sp?) woman who finds herself in the oddest places but for someone who loves to read and would appreciate them they are a great, quick, funny read. :0)

  17. Marie

    So glad to see Ron Rash on here!!! He was one of my writing teachers and, in addition to being one of the most talented writers of our time, is a phenomenal, magical human being. Oh, the stories he tells. Plus, he’s incredibly charming. (Why yes, I may be just a bit in love with him).

  18. Melissa

    Love reading your book list! I’d love for you to post what you are currently reading more often – more ideas for me! I’m just starting Allegiant. You and your (girl) students should read “The Selection” and “The Elite” – definitely young adult books about 35 girls competing to become the wife of the prince. The main character is really relatable(?) and brings up good questions about whether she should be in the competition, whether its morally right, whether she wants to and can handle being the queen, what decisions are right to make for a country, etc. She is a strong female character with real doubts and fears (think Hermione rather than Bella from Twilight). Just a heads up though – the third book in the trilogy doesn’t come out until next April =(

  19. I’m always looking for good books. Most come off the “free” bookshelf in my break room at work, but if I don’t like it after the first several pages, I put it back. Yes, I’m super picky. I’m also cheap so I don’t buy many books, but I found one at Costco that I had to have. It is called “Wild” and is about a young woman who decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail following the death of her mother and her divorce. It is fantastic.

  20. I read a lot too and I haven’t read any of these – thanks for the suggestions!

  21. Sonya

    I work as a library resource specialist for my district. My husband’s coworkers think I must have the most boring job because I read and my job is based around books! It cracks me up! It always makes me sad when people say they don’t read. They just have no idea what they are missing.

  22. Katie McCollum

    I too LOVE to read! I don’t feel satisfied leaving the library with less than at least 3 books. My husband is the driver in the family on car trips so LOTS of prime reading time there. And no matter what the time, I ALWAYS read before I go to bed at night. I loved seeing your reviews in this post. I need to read the one about the bank robber… I have picked it up before and put it down. Some of my favorites in the past have been picked up and put down at the library before they finally made it to my house. May I suggest Jodi Piccoult’s new one The StoryTeller? It is very good!! I too read Lone Wolf. Not one of my favorites of hers, but still….pretty good. I really must figure out the Good Reads thing. It could be so informative when I need reccomendations!!!

  23. I am a SAHM and I get that comment(said in a bit nicer way) a lot! I always do you have time to eat? Breathe? Then you have time to read 🙂 Reading is definitly a part of breathing to me. I feel like I am having a conversation with a close friend in a good book from a favorite author. And as a SAHM I NEED an adult conversation!

  24. Nikki

    I needed this list! I was just telling my Husband today how much I have missed reading since our Son was born. I think I’m going to let Facebook deal without me being on it for a while and read my Kindle instead. Thank you!!

  25. Megan

    Perfect timing for this list! I am curious though on the tips your friend have you on how to read faster. Anything you could share? I love to read but I’m soooo ssslllooowwwww 🙂

  26. Cindy

    I love books too so thank you for giving some reviews. I will definitely add you on goodreads because I faithfully use that also!!

Leave a Comment