The Quarter in Books–Twitterature Style

For a change of pace I decided to link up to Twitterature for this quarter’s roundup post.  Below are short clips about the 61 books I read and reviewed from April-June, organized by topic (education, work/writing/life balance, fiction, food memoirs, parenting, and spiritual life).  The links are to my longer reviews, in case something catches your interest.

Education (For Adults and Kids)

  • School Education: Developing a Curriculum–Great thoughts on books and methods, but highly recommended for practical thoughts on how habits and routines are helpful in life, not just in school.  #charlottemason  #homeschool
  • The History of the Medieval World–The second volume in Susan Wise Bauer’s excellent and accessible history series was as well done and entertaining as the first.  The book is really long, but well worth your time.  You could use this as a history text for a high school student.  #excellent
  • Big Data: A Revolution that Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think–Information has been changing, and this book is an accessible, insightful overview of how those changes have and will continue to impact how we live, work, and learn.  If you work with information or are involved in education (which should be pretty much everyone, I’m guessing), you should read this book.  #fascinating
  • Coolidge–This excellent and readable history of a sometimes forgotten president brings a great deal of insight to the history you might vaguely remember from high school, and offers perspective applicable to current events.  #welldone
  • Shadows of the Workhouse–The stories of British workhouses in this book were bleak and disturbing, but as a historical source they were interesting and informative.  There is just enough hope in this book to keep you going.  #history
  • Farewell to the East End–The stories in this book are more along the lines of Call the Midwife–humor and hope interspersed with sad and sobering history.  #sociology #history
  • The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting–This rambling treatise on handwriting might be of interest if you are really into…handwriting.  Which I sort of am.  And it was funny.  #nicheread
  • Discover Your Inner Economist–I hesitate to put this in the education section because it’s really more gimmicky than economicsy (you’re right Spellcheck, that’s not a word) but it does have some good thoughts on how incentives drive decisions and behavior.  #vaguelyinteresting #disappointing
  • Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy–This detailed biography offers a different perspective on the interwar and World War II history of Germany, combined with discussions of how the church failed to prevent the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s role in the resistance movement.  The book is quite long, and some of the theological sections are a bit dry, but overall it’s a fascinating read.  #history

Work/Writing/Life Balance

  • Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work–What does the way you approach your work say about your theology?  I found the section on the arts and writing especially helpful but other parts might be more applicable to your work. #thoughtprovoking  #challenging
  • Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction–I find that writing in different genres strengthens your writing across the board, so I think any sort of writer would find this book helpful.  Since reading it I have applied what I learned from this book to fiction as well as to the more corporate type writing I do for work. #helpful #amwriting
  • Little House on the Freeway: Help for the Hurried Home–This book identifies busy-ness, anxiety, hurry, lack of connection, and dissatisfaction as problems that characterize our society, and offers helpful suggestions for combatting them.  #thoughtful #family
  • What the Most Successful People Do at Work–The latest in Laura Vanderkam’s useful series on maximizing your time, this book focuses on increasing your productivity and happiness at work.  Whatever you do for work, you’ll find this e-book well worth your time.  #helpful #time
  • A Circle of Quiet–This is my new favorite book on life, work/motherhood/life balance, and writing. Highly recommended. #thoughtful #insightful
  • The Gifts of Imperfection–As a recovering people pleaser, I found this book very helpful.  The author’s insights into perfectionism and people pleasing overlapped, which is a connection I often overlook.  The sections on busy-ness, numbing pain, and how children handle perfectionism were especially helpful.  #thoughtprovoking
  • The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success with Less Stress–Although it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read on time management, I found the ideas for diagnosing time malaise, dealing with other people’s priorities, and the importance of schedules helpful.  #timemanagement
  • QBQ! Practicing Personal Accountability in Business and in Life–If you have 20 minutes you can read this book from cover to cover, but let me boil it down for you: replace “why” “who” and “when” questions with “how” and “what” questions to avoid shifting blame and boost productivity.  This helpful insight would have made a better blog post than book, but whatever.  #supershort
  • One Person, Multiple Careers–This book is more about having a follow-on career than how to juggle multiple careers at once.  Since I’m in the latter category rather than the former, I didn’t find it that helpful, but it might be good if you’re looking for a career switch.  #work
  • 12 Minutes to Change Your Day–Other than a helpful incentive to think of your day in 12 minute increments in order to maximize productivity by using the little leftover bits of time you have, I didn’t get a lot out of this book.  #soso
  • One Small Step Can Change Your Life–If you don’t have a lot of extra time, this book can help you figure out ways to accomplish your goals by taking small, consistent steps.  #helpful
  • Secrets of Professional Organizers: Experts Talk about Decluttering, Organizing and Simplifying Life–This helpful book covers the usual organizing and time management topics in slightly unusual ways, such as how learning styles apply to organization and time use.  #helpful
  • How to Embrace a Minimalist Wardrobe–Streamlining your closet can help you be more productive, but unless this topic is really, really new to you, you might not get a lot out of this book.  #skipit
  • Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art–If you’re a Christian and an artist of any kind, especially if you’re a writer, you have to read this book.  Seriously.  Go get it now.  The reflections on taking time to just be are incredibly helpful. #readitnow
  • Madeleine L’Engle Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life–This book is a compilation of quotations from L’Engle’s essays and lectures.  I read it for the lecture quotes, but unless you’re really a die-hard fan, you’d be better off just reading her books of essays.  #skipit

Fiction

  • What Alice Forgot–The fabulous premise (what if you forgot the past ten years and then tried to live your present day life?) was somewhat annoyingly executed at times, but still well worth reading.  #quickread  #bookclub
  • Murder on the Orient Express–I’m not normally a huge mystery fan, but this one was well paced, had strong characters, and I didn’t figure it out too quickly.  #good #clean #fun #bookclub
  • The Book Thief–In spite of its important themes, I thought this book was only basically decent.  The author’s use of Death as a narrator kept me removed from the characters and was exceptionally annoying.  #goodpremisegonebad
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society–Another good story about World War II, told in the form of letters, this book also got me thinking about letter writing in general. #greatstory #bookclub
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor–This book is a lovely story about friendship, memory, math, and baseball.  And yes, somehow that combination really works. The form and style of the story were particularly interesting to me, because I love books where the setting forms a framework for the story (if you’re a writer, you should read this book so you can observe how the author handles this!).  #excellent
  • The Alchemist–You may have heard that this book is great.  You heard wrong.  The book is poorly written, heavy handed, and silly.  I only read it because I was stuck somewhere and had nothing else to do. Even reading the back of a Kleenex box would have been preferable.  #twiddleyourthumbsinstead #awful
  • The Distant Hours–This well-structured, well-researched historical/mystery/family drama would be an excellent choice if you only have time for one novel this summer.  I loved the pacing and the way the author combined historical fiction and the theme of mother/daughter/sister relationships with a mystery.  #excellent #readthis
  • The Forgotten Garden–One of Kate Morton’s earlier books, this one is equally strong in terms of story and character development, but the mystery aspect is a little weaker.  Read it after The Distant Hours.  #stillgood #history
  • The Secret Keeper–Yes, I’m a groupie.  The third Morton novel I read this quarter was again well written and combined a great mystery with excellent character and relationship development as well as offering an insightful look into London during the Blitz.  Maybe I’m a mystery fan after all!  #KateMortonRocks #anglophilefiction
  • The Winter Sea–Although I loved the historical setting of this book and learned a lot about the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland, I found one of the narrative devices so incredibly annoying that I can’t really recommend it.  If you know of another book set in the same time period, let me know!  #history #ridiculousplotdevice
  • A Wrinkle in Time–I liked this series as a kid and enjoyed re-reading it as an adult (trying to decide if my 7 year old could handle the content, decided it would be better when she’s older). #literarykids
  • A Wind in the Door–Another in the time travel series, following the same characters #timetravel
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet–#ditto
  • Many Waters–The premise of this book stayed with me, even though I read it as, I think, a 2nd grader.  I think it was the first time I ever thought of what being a biblical character would have been like.  #Noah
  • An Acceptable Time–Although it’s included in the time travel series because it contains time travel, this book is about Meg’s daughter and chronologically occurs after A House Like a Lotus (see review below).  I don’t remember reading this as a kid, but maybe I blocked it out because I dislike the Polly character. #skipit
  • The Arm of the Starfish–Following Meg and Calvin’s kids, this book is more of a mystery.  No time travel, but still a lot of science.  #lengle
  • Dragons in the Waters–#ditto
  • A House Like a Lotus–Although it handles some sensitive issues well, I would not recommend this book for kids or even teens unless you’re reading it right there with them, because of the breathtakingly awful way it depicts a sexual relationship between a 16 year old and an adult.  No matter what your views on teen relationships, predatory and exploitative situations like this one are illegal, and I wouldn’t want any girl I know to think that such a thing is normal, healthy, or moral. #bad

Food Memoirs

  • Dinner: A Love Story–The author documented every dinner she made from her newlywed days on as her family grew.  Her insights on family dinners were interesting, and I enjoyed seeing how her ideas changed over time.  Good recipes are also included.  #cooking  #hospitality
  • The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook–Amazing recipes without fussy ingredients, combined with the engaging writing you’ll remember from the author’s blog if you read it (and if you don’t, you should!).  #yum
  • Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook–In my ongoing quest to maybe someday finish a Whole 30, I keep checking out books that follow the smart carb idea (sort of low carb, but more whole foods with fruit and vegetables instead of Atkinsy pork rinds). This book is a good one if you have children, with tips on cooking with them, getting them to eat healthy foods, and the like.  #quickeasyhealthy
  • Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table With Recipes–It’s a food memoir, and there are awesome recipes included, but this book was so much more than that.  Profoundly encouraging, thought-provoking, and insightful, I’d highly recommend this book.  #readitnow
  • Operation Dinner: How to Plan, Shop, and Prep for Easy Family Meals–If you’re new to meal planning, or need a refresher, this book will be helpful.  #mealplan

Parenting

Spiritual Life

  • Apologetics to the Glory of God–Rather than a how to manual, this book is more of a foundational look at why and how we communicate things we truly believe.  Although it’s more theory than practical application, I found it helpful.  #thoughtprovoking
  • A Meal With Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community and Mission Around the Table–This book uses exposition of how Jesus came eating and drinking to offer practical applications for how hospitality and Sabbath can foster the sort of community and rest that attracts people to the Gospel.  #insightful
  • 24/6: A Prescription for a Happier, Healthier Life–Written by a doctor-turned-minister, this book offers a more health-based approach to Sabbath keeping and is interesting, although less deep than other books on the topic.  #ok
  • Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God–In this book, the author of Radical applies those ideas to the church as a whole rather than the individual applications of the original book.  Geared toward church leaders and teachers, the book has helpful ideas for teaching and training.  #good
  • The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Own Mutiny Against Excess–Building on the ideas in her excellent book 7, Jen Hatmaker wrote a study guide so that groups and individuals can work through the unconventional fasting ideas from her book.  The study guide is helpful, but I had an issue with some of her use of Scripture.  #read7instead
  • Women’s Ministry in the Local Church–While sort of helpful, this book suffers from its refusal to define hot button terms.  The vagueness made me wonder if I could really agree with it, and didn’t leave me with many ideas to implement.  #meh
  • Your Home a Place of Grace–I got a ton out of the group discussions of this book in the Biblestudy I attend, but I thought the book itself was only so-so.  #ok

What were the best books you read this quarter?

3 thoughts on “The Quarter in Books–Twitterature Style

  1. 61?! That’s a lot of books!

    I think I need to read The Missing Ink. Every Good Endeavor and every Kate Morton book (except The Distant Hours, which I loved) are patiently waiting on my bookshelf right now. And I couldn’t agree more with your synopsis of A Circle of Quiet.

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