January 2015 Reads

I have a loose goal this year of reading more books and a secret goal of reading 100. I'm trying to keep this specific number something of a secret from myself; I don't want to get too caught up in numbers. But I do want to read more books this year, and since 87 seems to be my usual number read, and 100 is a few more than 87, it seems like a good goal. But again, I'm reading because I want to, not to impress myself with particular numbers.

Along with my read more goal, I'm also currently considering how to pay better attention to what I'm reading. To get started along that path, I'm going to try and share my favorite books here and try to explain why I liked them. Good luck to me.

My favorite books this month were:

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

I read this early in the month and I've been sad ever since it finished. What is Mr. Toad up to? I want to know. Are Badger and Mole and Water Rat keeping him under control? I've never been more shocked or secretly pleased at the plot twists in a book than in The Wind in the Willows. I could not help but tell everyone around me what Mr. Toad was up to. Can you believe what he did? Etc. You think you're in for a sort of lazy, chill read and then all of a sudden ALL THE ACTION. Even now, just thinking about it is making me quite happy.

"The last long stretch, the home stretch, the stretch that we know is bound to end, some time, in the rattle of the door-latch, the sudden firelight, and the sight of familiar things greeting us as long-absent travellers from far oversea."

Thinking about yesterday's sun, but walking in the rain is nice too #latergram

An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor

I may secretly keep this book as my most favorite ever. I'll keep it a secret because it's a bit soon to declare it my most favorite, and also, I don't want to give you unrealistic expectations. I read her memoir last year, Leaving Church, and that was probably my favorite book of the year. So I was hopeful about this one, but a bit nervous, because while I'm quite keen on memoirs, once people leave the personal stories for more general "spiritual" thoughts I often have a hard time connecting with what they're saying. But this book was spirituality stripped to its most basic and most understandable, and at the same time most challenging.

"What is saving my life right now is the conviction that there is no spiritual treasure to be found apart from the bodily experiences of human life on earth. My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them. My life depends on ignoring all touted distinctions between the secular and the sacred, the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul. What is saving my life now is becoming more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world."

The sun came out and I didn't need my hat #oregoncoast

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (followed by Scarlet and Cress)

It's been a while since I read an action packed series, so I was equal parts super stressed out and super entertained. Very creative re-tellings of fairy tales in the near future, our most recognizable stories get some wonderful updates. I'm anxiously awaiting the next story in the series.

"The screw through Cinder's ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle. Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw on gritting twist after another."

Reading a novel on paper, a rare moment #itssimplytuesday

Walking by Henry David Thoreau

I read this book really randomly when I read a quote from it in another book, and the quote was so captivating I had to stop everything and go read this. I had not read any Thoreau before, and it seemed very fitting to be reading it while surrounded by the wilds of the Oregon Coast. Written in a different time, you can tell he didn't have a computer, as the thoughts just kind of hop from one to the next without a lot of editing. But a lot of the thoughts were interesting, and great to read when you've got nature on the mind.

"So we saunter toward the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our whole lives with a great awakening light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bankside in autumn."

2014-12-28 16.18.06.jpg

The Accidental Creative

I read (or skim) a lot of productivity, how to be creative type books, and I would say this is definitely one of the better ones I've read. This book has real, practical advice and practices to adapt in your life, basically to make it more intentional. I love the title because I feel super accidental about being "a creative." And by "creative" it seems like he really means "someone who needs to come up with ideas." So if you find that you need new ideas in your life, and you're not sure where to find them, this book can help you set up practices so that you can consistently generate new ideas.

But there are other people who derive their energy from filling other people's buckets. They love the thrill of seeing other people come alive, of collaborating, of giving away their ideas and subsequently the credit they deserve. They recognize that more ideas will always come, but investing in relationships and maintaining an ethic of generosity yields results we can't gain when we hold tightly and selfishly to what we think we deserve. These are the people others flock to and who invigorate an entire room with their creative energy. They thrive because they make it their mission to help others to thrive...these people are the meaning makers, and in my experience they eventually come out on top because everyone wants to work with, and for, them.

See Friday's post.

#atmydesk #fromabove

What did you read in January? I'm always on the lookout for recommendations!


Recent Comments

Dawn Evans
Dawn Evans Thu, 02/05/2015 - 04:14

I love the Wind in the Willows but not read the others you have here. I keep an eye on your choices on Good Reads and was impressed with your 87 books !! Good luck on breaking that record. I managed 69 but they were long ones! I am trying to make sure my books are more evenly spread across publication dates. I need to read more that were written before 1950.

Mollie Peoples
Mollie Peoples Wed, 02/04/2015 - 09:40

It's been a while since I've done anything with the local library (mainly because we've been out of state so long that I am still readjusting to being home, even a year and a half later, lol) - but we have a few really awesome library systems (the Kansas City library AND the Mid-Continent Library, which spans more cities around the metro than I can count), so I REALLY should be looking into those... THANKS for reminding me about the library!! LOL!

Marisa Lerin
Marisa Lerin Wed, 02/04/2015 - 08:05

@Sunny: I've read that one! It was a great one!

Marisa Lerin
Marisa Lerin Wed, 02/04/2015 - 08:05

@Mollie: Our local library has ebooks, which is how I get most of my books. I really don't like reading on paper anymore, but I do still love the library!

Mollie Peoples
Mollie Peoples Tue, 02/03/2015 - 12:52

I'm too picky with books. I think that's half my problem. Most of the time, I just can't let go and read - I am critiquing the grammar and vocabulary and imagery, etc, the WHOLE time! I have to find something that I can REALLY get caught up and captivated in to distract me. (Though, an author having good grammar, vocabulary, imagery, etc, in the first place helps, too! lol) I find myself downloading free eBooks on Amazon and then turning around and deleting them only a page or two into the books because I just can't handle the writing.
Usually, I read Christian theology literature, self-help-esque books, or Michael Crichton - I tend to just read his books over and over and over again. lol.
I want to branch out... but I've been burned so much that I just can't bring myself to pay for books if I can't read the first chapter! lol My time is precious; I get mad if I feel like I've "wasted" it on disappointing books, and yet I play Farmville 2 for HOURS. ...'cause that makes SO much sense. /facepalm

Sunny Faith Rush
Sunny Faith Rush Tue, 02/03/2015 - 08:43

The beautifully written book , "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" , will touch you and teach you and so much more. Please, please add it to your reading list.

Marisa Lerin
Marisa Lerin Tue, 02/03/2015 - 07:53

@Molly: I was pretty distracted the whole time by the plots. As I said, I haven't been readying anything this suspenseful lately, so it was really all I could focus on. Although I did enjoy the characters, it's more of an ensemble cast, it turns out, if you keep reading. And certain motives become more clear as you go.

Vicki Iseminger
Vicki Iseminger Tue, 02/03/2015 - 03:58

I too have a reading goal for 2015-to read at least one book a month...not nearly ambitious as your goal Marisa! I'm just finishing up my second book. So far so good!

Mollie Peoples
Mollie Peoples Mon, 02/02/2015 - 08:42

I actually carved out some time to read Cinder... and I was actually really disappointed. I thought the story concept was REALLY awesome and I loved it, I just thought that the author's execution was lackluster and left me wanting more - and not more of the story in another book, but more depth to the story I was already reading. The characters felt hollow to me and I wished that the author had spent just a bit more time describing the world she had built. Also, I felt that just about everything involving that old scientist guy (because I really don't want to spoil any secrets) felt forced and contrived. And I thought that the personality changes of Cinder were a little off. I just got to a point in the book where I couldn't relate to anyone any more and had little interest invested in their livelihood.
As I said, the story concept was AWESOME. So, the way the book was executed was really disappointing. I want to know what goes on further in the story, but I just felt so burned by the book that I can't bring myself to pay more to get further disappointed. :(