Sunday, November 23, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

Reading Max Lucado's book Before Amen (about prayer) with two groups - one group of real life friends and one group of women who signed up with Proverbs 31 Ministries to study the book together. The book study has only begun this week, but I found one quote I know is true from experience.

Friday, November 21, 2014

#BookishThanks November 15-21

I am participating in a most wonderful bookish Thanksgiving meme, #BookishThanks, put together by Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. A category is given for every day in November, to which you can apply the book of your choice, posting it on your social media. It has been so much fun, I figured I'd post them on my blog weekly! Feel free to leave your choices for any categories in the comments.

15. Sparked my imagination - Juliet's Nurse, by Lois Leveen

16. Stretched my mind - One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Stretched me so much, I made sure I'd never forget it!

17. Took my breath away - Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo

18. Taught me something new - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See

19. Discussed with a friend - The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst

20. Gave me a different perspective - The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara

21. Makes me take copious notes - The Bible

Once again, what better place for lasting impressions?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Student Spotlight: Donald R.

Hi! Welcome to Student Spotlight on My Life in Books. Today's featured student writer is Donald R. He is an 11th grader and his class read Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, earlier this year. In the novel, many characters have big hopes and dreams for the future, although none of them reach their goals. Although there are extenuating circumstances for Steinbeck's characters, the Impossibility of the American Dream is one of the themes of the novel. Based on this theme, students were asked to describe and plan steps toward a possible hope or dream(s) they have for their own future. The best laid plans of mice and men may often go awry, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

I am very proud of Donald for taking this essay seriously and choosing such a thoughtful topic. Welcome Donald!

My Dream to Lose Weight

             My dream is to lose weight. The main reason I want to lose weight and gain some muscle is because it’s been along time since I’ve been at a standard or better weight. Another reason is because there’s many things I’ve wanted or want to do but my weight has been slowing me down. If I were to become healthy and lose weight, I could become more active in my life.

The way I plan to lose weight is by doing regular exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and walking daily, but pacing the exercises. I don’t want to hurt or pull a muscle, which could make me have to take time off from exercises. Another way is by having a steady diet and not eating so much junk food. Also by eating at regular times, instead of eating at anytime, so my digestive system can settle better and faster. Another way is by getting more motivated to do exercise. I’m going to listen to music that can help me focus more and block out any stress related situations.

The reason why I’ve always wanted to be healthy and in good shape is because it will help me accomplish what I’ve always wanted to do. And also because I can do more active things and better myself. The whole reason why I want to lose weight is because I’ve always hated looking at myself being fat and having dreams of being fit and healthy. And mostly, I’ve hated looking at myself in the mirror and all I see is fat and not seeing the fit side of me.

The way that being healthy and gaining muscle will help me in the future and how it would change my life is that I would be able to do more fun things and work easier. I would be able to do more outdoor activities with friends, family, or just by myself. Also another reason is I would be able to find a good job where I can be active and get paid at the same time. Finally, I wouldn’t always have to be indoors all the time and feel embarrassed. I would be able to prove to my family, friends, and those who have always made fun of me that I can lose weight and be the healthier person I want to be.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

I didn't forget about Sunday Sentence today, but didn't have time to put anything up between last night and this morning. But I found a book of poetry by an author, Tyler Knott Gregson, whom a friend of mine loves. Gregson's poetry is different in both format and appearance, so if you have a moment, Google images and take a look. My friend posted one today that I thought was quite relevant, so I figured, better late than never.

Oh what we
could be if we
stopped carrying
the remains 
of who we were.

Tyler Knott Gregson

Friday, November 14, 2014

#BookishThanks November 8-14

I am participating in a most wonderful bookish Thanksgiving meme, #BookishThanks, put together by Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. This time I was able to place the graphic above for your iPad was having a good day, I guess. For #BookishThanks, a category is given for every day in November, to which you can apply the book of your choice, posting it on your social media. It has been so much fun, I figured I'd post them on my blog weekly! Feel free to leave your choices for any categories in the comments.

8. Recommended by a friend - Stones From the River, Ursula Hegi

9. Would read over and over - The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

10. Boosted my vocabulary - Anything Shakespeare

11. Love the voice - This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper

12. Favorite reading accessory - fleece blanket and my dog AND 14. Favorite reading spot - bed

13. Must read author's backlist - David Mitchell (read Cloud Atlas)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Best Yes

One of my favorite things about books is discussion. Fiction is my preference for reading, but I enjoy a good discussion on life topics. And I have a number of favorite authors who write on relevant topics. The most recent is The Best Yes, by Lysa Terkeurst. The premise of the book is that our day-to-day schedule works off of our ability to use two words, Yes and No. I read and discussed this book weekly with friends and found those who were in the same boat as me, plus those who were already good at saying no and really helped me.

I do not consider myself a people pleaser, although that would be one reason a person would say yes to more than he/she should. As I read this book and thought about it, I knew that I just like to help people. If I can help, or make a way to help, I will. Saying no felt like I was telling the person I didn't care or didn't want to help, when that's not what a no necessarily means. And I never considered the strain that put on me until a few years ago when I had a new teaching schedule that took up more time than usual. I did everything I usually did plus the extra work stress and always felt frazzled, which made me realize I've felt this frazzled-ness off and on before that.

The Best Yes is about saying no when you need to so that you have the time to say yes when you really should. Not only does this relieve the stress of an overwhelming schedule, but it also leaves you time for the most important things. The things you are meant to do. Terkeurst had so many amazing one liners that I could repeat to myself, reminders that it is okay to say no when I need to. I recently grouped a set of them into my Sunday meme, Begin the Week with Words (aka Sunday Sentence).

The book has helped. No, it's not like I no longer struggle with saying no, but I've made progress. I've pinpointed the things I feel are my current priorities in life and focus on them. I've been able to say no to things that seem very simple to some, but are a big deal for me! And I've also been learning that I don't have to give an excuse for everything I say no to. No is no and that's all there is to it. Sometimes the reason isn't always something I can share with others anyway and I end up sounding stupid trying to semi explain.

As a side note, author Lysa Terkeurst is a wife and mother of five, and also the President of the Christian Women's organization called Proverbs 31 Ministries. Regardless of what your stance on God is, TerKeurst's books are always on relevant topics all women face. Books of hers I'd recommend are Made to Crave (about eating) and Unglued (about losing your cool - see my review here). She also has a great set of marriage books, one for husbands called Capture Her Heart, and one for wives called Capture His Heart (my mini review here).

I'd have to say reading The Best Yes is one of my best yeses this year. Anyone else read any good books helping you with life topics?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Gutenberg's Apprentice

Gutenberg's Apprentice, by Alix Christie
Publisher: Harper
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Category: Historical fiction
Source: I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

For some reason I had this book written down with a publication date of October 28th, thinking I'm only a week later with my review. Then find out as I go to write this it was September 23rd. Now how did I mess that up?'s a quick review of the plot from Amazon: Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.” Johann Gutenberg has devised a revolutionary method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop and he orders Peter, his adopted son, to become Gutenberg’s apprentice. 

As Peter's skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. Peter finds himself torn between these two father figures. Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles—a battle that will change history . . . and irrevocably transform them.

My thoughts? Overall I liked Gutenberg's Apprentice. The one complaint I might see people making is that it is slow paced at times. I thought so off and on as I read it, but looking back it didn't make me want to DNF it. I was extremely interested in knowing the side of the story we never hear about. Also, the technical talk about the printing process really makes the reader understand that this was not an easy process. Gutenberg didn't just invent the press and voilĂ , we have books by the hundreds. It was back breaking, all consuming work that so many others would've given up on. Lucky for us, Gutenberg, Peter, and Fust were most determined.

The time period, mid-1400s, is not familiar to many people, I'd guess. It was very interesting to see how life was lived. Expectations for work, marriage, religion, etc. A few characters' reaction to the press being blasphemous amused me. The idea that the Bible could only be meaningful if carefully written by hand seems absolutely ludicrous. They are likely rolling in their graves over our Bible apps and such online now! But it made me keep in mind that all great things are misunderstood and challenged. They bring change, which people generally fear. Yet, look what this has brought us! I wouldn't be writing this and you wouldn't be reading it without Gutenberg, Peter, and Fust's work.

I love the idea of more to the story than meets the eye. Can you think of any other amazing inventions you would like to see stories about?