January has turned out to be a great reading month for me. I unintentionally compiled a pretty eclectic group of books and I’ve enjoyed each one for the unique experience it was. I’m also maintaining the pace of reading about a book a week – an astounding feat considering I’m juggling three classes this semester on top of my regularly scheduled life. If I stay at this pace, I shouldn’t have any trouble meeting my fifty book goal. Yeah!
- The Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp (1/50). Less a how-to guide for navigating the rough waters of teendom and more a whole parenting philosophy based on sound biblical principles and built on hope, The Age of Opportunity is worth it’s weight in gold. Paul David Tripp believes the behaviors we see in our teenagers are a product of the condition of their hearts. It’s our job as parents to help our teens sift through the heart issues and then the right behaviors will follow. It’s a simple sounding formula that requires dedication, effort, and sacrifice. He exhorts parents to look at themselves and their own sins, to be real for their children, and to pursue open communication on a regular basis. This book offers a very positive approach to parenting teens that I found refreshing and hopeful. There is so much good information tucked between the covers – I think I highlighted half the book. (4.5/5 stars)
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (2/50). The New York Times describes this book as “a profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life.” I have to agree. The story, set in the slums of Brooklyn, New York between 1900 and WWI, draws a detailed sketch of the poverty and struggle that was intimately connected to a particular place and time in American history. Against this background, Francie Nolan’s life unfolds and blossoms, despite the seemingly endless sufferings. Betty Smith counters the harshness of reality with love, hope, and the irrepressible determination of the human spirit. It is an inspiring tale gift-wrapped in Ms. Smith’s superbly descriptive and insightful writing style. I loved this book! My only question is, “Why?” Why did I wait so long to read it? (5/5 stars)
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (3/50). I know this is technically a young adult book. And the term young adult has not applied to me in decades. But, I do have teenagers and I’m always curious to know what quality of literature is out there for them. Usually, my kids give me recommendations. This time I picked the book out on my own because the weirdness of it attracted me. Miss Peregrine’s turned out to be an easy, face-paced read with a whole lotta action. The main character, Jacob, is likeable and funny and makes for a fine protagonist in this fantasy/action-adventure with a bit of spook mixed in for good measure tale. My only issue was the ending. Ransom Riggs seems to be setting the stage for another book or perhaps even a series and I wanted a clean finish. That’s just my personal preference, though. I’ve already recommended the book to my kids. While it probably won’t win any awards, the writing is very solid and the story is interesting and exciting. It’s a very entertaining and worthwhile read. (4/5 stars)
- The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (4/50). My Mom gave me this book at the beginning of last summer with the warning that I would need a tissue (or several). I’d been putting off reading it because I just didn’t feel like purposely making myself sad. I don’t know why I decided now was the time to read this tear-jerker, but I’m so glad I did. Just in case it is not common knowledge, the story is told by a dog named Enzo, who loves his family, car racing, and TV watching. He also believes in karma and reincarnation and that when he dies he will be reborn as a man (after he is finished running free in the open fields of heaven, of course). Mr. Stein writes with such canine perception that I almost wonder if he wasn’t a dog in his former life. If you love dogs, racing, or life, I can’t recommend this touching story enough. (4.5/5 stars)
It appears that I am one of those people who rave about everything they read. I’m really not. (Well, maybe I am just a little because I won’t usually waste my time reading a book I don’t like or care about.) I just happened upon a great group of books this time around. What have you read this month? I’m always looking for recommendations.