Tag Archives: books

Podcasts

Recently, I’ve started listening to some podcasts. I know, I know; I’m a several months (years?) late to that party. With young children constantly around me, it’s sometimes hard to listen to spoken word (you know, something that I actually need to pay attention to if I want to comprehend what’s happening), and that’s most of the reason I’m late to the podcast-listening idea. I can’t just turn one on when I get in the car because I usually have several people communicating wth me at once. I don’t need another voice added to the fray. But I’ve really enjoyed getting recommendations from friends about what podcasts are making them think, which ones are encouraging them, or even affecting heart change. So naturally, I’ve started putting in my headphones a little more often, and, you know, crying while I mow the lawn or fold the laundry. It’s almost like reading a book, but I can work on something else while I’m doing it.podcast

It been so interesting to me how God has ordained things in my life, right down to which podcasts I’m listening to. Ever think He doesn’t influence the small things in your life? Just look for connections between your struggles and an innocent book or podcast suggestion made by a friend. I know He is wooing me through different ways every single day, pursuing me by letting me hear from Him even in the oddest of places.

That all being said, I’ll tell you about these podcasts I’m checking out. I started with The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She brings another person (often one of her friends) onto her show and they talk about real life and I have LOVED it. It’s often a faith-based writer or speaker and I can get choked up just hearing them have real conversation about their lives. It’s so fun listening in on a conversation that feels like it would’ve happened the same way, even if they weren’t recording. After I blasted through several episodes of Jamie’s show, I got turned onto That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs. She has similar guests and conversations, but she has a cool perspective, too. Basically what I’ve realized is that these two hosts are writers, they have writers on their shows frequently, and I am totally inundated with books I want to buy/read because of it. And these aren’t usually novels that I can get on my Kindle and just blast through in a few days because they’re easy reads. These are the sort of life-changing books that I want to dig into. I want to have my own paper copy because I like underlining and circling and reading them again and again. For instance, I’ve already ordered Annie’s Let’s All Be Brave and one of her guests’ (John Mark Comer) books called Garden City. I want to hear the Lord speaking to me, I want to learn about Him and others’ experiences with Him and His goodness. Wouldn’t you?

Now don’t think I’m all crazy – I don’t necessarily think that God ordained these people to say things that are meant just for me. But I do think that there is knowledge we can glean from hearing about others’ journeys. I think we can hear from God when hearing someone else talk, teach, preach. I think we are more in tune to His voice than we think, but we often don’t give Him the credit when He speaks to us through the words of others.

Do you have any podcasts that you think I’d like? Please comment with them! I’m LOVING listening to them!!

Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold, by Margaret Atwood

hag seed
Image of the book cover found on Google.

I must admit, when I caught sight of this book on the shelf at the library, I snagged it without even reading the cover, simply because I knew I had read Margaret Atwood before and loved it. So I began Hag-Seed without really knowing what I was getting into.

The book is a part of Hogarth Shakespeare, a project I actually hadn’t heard of before. It aims to see Shakespeare’s works retold by acclaimed modern novelists. The Tempest is the story being retold here, and to be honest, it’s a play I’m not familiar with, but Atwood summarizes it at the end of the book.

The premise of Hag-Seed is that a washed-up play director with a reputation for pushing boundaries gets screwed out of his job by a colleague. He has an epic meltdown, sets his sights on revenge, and then moves to a new town to start over, teaching literacy through theatre (read: Shakespeare) at a local prison. He takes Shakespeare’s plays, and adapts them for his rag-tag group of convicts, letting them take some artistic license, of course. Together they do costumes, set design, and even film the production at the end of the class to be viewed by the other inmates. Of course, the play being done when we are a part of the story is The Tempest. The director is definitely a little bit bonkers, obsessed with his former life and bringing his eccentricities with him to his new one, but it makes for an interesting read to see how everything comes together at the end.

I wouldn’t call it an easy beach read, but I would definitely say it’s worth a try! The beginning dragged a little for me, so don’t put it down when you realize the story doesn’t truly start till a few chapters in. Find it at your local library, and give Hogarth Shakespeare a try! I’d like to find another book from the project, and give it a try, too.

A Reading Resolution

I love the sound of reading challenges. Once upon a time, I would’ve blown them all out of the water. One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was read. Late at night with a flashlight, in the middle of the afternoon in the summer, or all day on a Saturday. But now that things are busier, I find it hard to keep up with a reading list. There are less and less uninterrupted, quiet minutes in my day, and so reading (especially reading things that take much thought) can fall to the way side. 

I’ve set my yearly reading goals too high in the past, only to realize by the time summer comes that I’ve got to re-imagine the goal if I’m going to get anywhere close to completing it. Which sorta defeats the purpose of a goal, right? So this year, instead of choosing a huge number of books, or a strange combination of books, I choose this: 

I’m going to read for pleasure every single day. I will always be reading something,  And, perhaps most important, if I’ve read the first couple of chapters of a particular book, and I’m not that into it, I’m going to put it down and start something new. 

I don’t feel like these are too lofty, or unrealistic goals. But I also don’t feel like they are too easy. Days go by where I haven’t picked up a book (or my kindle) quite often. I’m either busy or doing something else instead (here’s looking at you, Netflix). But I want to read every day- to stretch my perspective, to sharpen my eyes and mind, to set the example of a love of reading for my kids. 

I’m open to all suggestions of books to read, and I love borrowing books, also! If you have something for me to read, pass it on! Non-fiction is the only genre I haven’t done much in. I’m almost done with LOTR (I know- it’s shameful how long it’s taken me) and I think my fresh start in 2017 will be with Philip Pullman’s Golden Compass series. I also have a few historical fiction novels on deck, courtesy of my mother in law. So it won’t be for lack of content if I don’t reach this goal! Who’s with me?!

Bedtime Stories: Best or Worst Time of the Day?

My kids LOVE being read to. I’m glad – really. I enjoy reading to them whether it’s at bedtime or before naps or whatever other random time they ask. We’ve got hundreds of books (not a lie) and we go to the library to borrow more. I get it from my mom: books are the one thing I almost never say no to. I buy them for no occasion at all, simply because I saw it when I was by myself and wanted to read it to them.

So naturally bedtime should be a wonderful opportunity for snuggles and reading. I should pine for this moment all day long, right?
Well. It doesn’t always go as planned.

Sometimes, for whatever reason (over-tiredness, too much energy, the need of potty or water) it gets difficult. They might be too tired to relax. They might be too wound up to concentrate. They beg to watch TV instead. They might just be using the reading time to put off bedtime. But they won’t stay around, won’t actually listen, won’t acknowledge that someone is reading. It’s like I’m shouting nonsense words just to make them giggle.

But those times are fewer and farther between with each passing day. My little sillies love reading more and more, and I look forward to each night that I get to share Charlotte and Wilbur, Pete the Cat, or 12 little girls in two straight lines. Even Rosie Revere (Rosie Revere, Engineer) and Stillwater  (Zen Shorts) make a weekly appearance in our routine.

I’ll take what I can get, if every few nights, they snuggle up next to me for book after book until my voice is gone and my own eyes are droopy. I’ll keep reading until they would rather read to me, or read under their covers with a flashlight. I know these days are passing quickly, so I will read, read, read to them as much as I can.

Here are a few of our favorites, in case you need some fresh suggestions!

Zen Shorts and Hi, Koo! (by Jon Muth)

Yum Yum Dim Sum (by Amy Wilson Sanger)

Rosie Revere, Engineer (by Andrea Beaty)

Dragons Love Tacos (by Adam Rubin)

The Witch’s Hat (by Tony Johnston, and I know this seems Halloween-themed, but my kids LOVE it.)

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (by Martin/Archambault, and yes, many children have projects based on this one in kindergarten.)

Harold and the Purple Crayon (by Crockett Johnson)

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (by Virginia Lee Burton, and I remember reading this one to my enamored little brother twenty years ago.)

Little Owl’s Night (by Divya Srinivasan – a GREAT bedtime book)

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child (by Julia Donaldson, and they’re also on Netflix as short cartoons!)

And last but not least, a total favorite: Jesus Storybook Bible (by Sally Lloyd-Jones). You can see how much I love it in this post from last Christmas.

Will You (Actually) Be My Friend on Goodreads?

I’ve been a member of Goodreads for several years now, but I don’t think I’m using it to its full potential. Are there any huge Goodreads fans out there? (Come on. Raise your hand, fellow nerds.) Partially, I haven’t been reading as much as I have in the past. You know, becoming a mother and all eats up a lot of your time to read for pleasure. But I also just can’t remember that Goodreads exists. For instance, the other day I logged in from my computer (what?!) and responded to about 75 friend requests from the past nine months. Yep. Nine months. So, if you thought I was weirdly unfriendly on a nerdy, fringe social media site, I promise I wasn’t. I just forget about it altogether. 

But recently I’ve committed to reading more, and that means I need to be seeing the books that other people are loving and recommending so that I can build my list. Truly, new books excite me. But I’ve been in a slump because I’ve just been slowly laboring through LOTR for months now. I’ve commuted to blasting my way through the Return of the King (it’s not like I don’t know how it ends, right?) so that I can start something fresh and new. 

There are several things on my immediate list. First of all, I borrowed the Golden Compass books from a friend, and I want to finish those first. Next, I took a (year-long) break from the Outlander series after Dragonfly in Amber, so I’d like to start back and see what Claire and Jamie are up to. But sometimes I get in a rut when reading series, and I need to break them up with a short, easy to read novel in between them; beach reads, humor, light mystery, or romance are my favorites for this purpose. 

That being said, I’m looking for suggestions for my reading list. I’d love it if you could comment with your trusty favorite, your recent love, or the one you’ve heard is great but haven’t read yet. And seriously, be my friend on Goodreads. 

This post is part of my NaBloPoMo, where I publish a piece each day in November. 

Our First Chapter Book

Recently, I’ve been noticing that my daughter was ready to read something big… something that went on from night to night, and didn’t even need to have pictures! This was a big deal for us, since she is only four and cannot read yet. It was also a challenge because the brothers wouldn’t be reading this book… just EK and me. I remember my mom reading Harry Potter to my brother and me as they came out, and now I’m a Potterhead. I’d love to cause a deep love for a story in my kids.

I happened to be at Barnes and Noble about this time buying a few new books for our home and a friend of mine with a new baby. Naturally, I wandered to the chapter book section (within the children’s books) and began looking around. I came upon a new series of books, sponsored by Disney’s Hyperion, and thought they looked very interesting, as they were set in our home state. They were books about a special girl called Serafina, and the first of the series mentioned something about a black cloak. So after reading the back cover, I snagged it.

It wasn’t until a couple of chapters in that I realized this was a little over EK’s head. I don’t mean that she couldn’t keep up with the story. I mean more that I would need to stop and explain words a little too often, and I would need to alter the words here and there… a lot of “kill” or “murder” and many details about blood.

That being said, I learned two things. I learned that I need to be a lot more familiar with the book I choose to read to her than reading the back cover.  I need to ask friends, do research, or choose a book I have read before or have time to read before I start it with her. Next, she is ready for an interesting and complicated storyline. She loved the book, asking me questions and keeping up from day to day (or few days) between reading sessions. Four and a half is not too young to read a chapter book and expect them to remember it! I just should have been a little choosier with the book.

Tomorrow we plan to visit Barnes and Noble after school to choose our next book. I plan to lead her to a certain direction, but I am excited to begin a new journey with my daughter that is just for us. 

What have you read to your kids? Do you have a suggestion for what we should read next?

Summer Reading List 

One thing I’ve always loved about summer is that there’s a little more time for reading. And when I say reading, I really mean reading for pleasure. I’ve always been a reader (thanks for passing that on to me, Mom!) and summer just feels like a good time to do it a lot. Even now when I’ve got three kids and WAY less free time than I’ve ever had, I feel a surge of hunger for books.

That being said, I’ve compiled a list of good summer reads if you’re looking for a new one. I’ve read all of these books, and loved them. Some are new, some not so much, but all great reads. Let me know if you’ve read these, or if you have suggestions for my summer reads this year!


One Mother to Another: This Is Just Between Us. My friend Melissa Mowry, who writes at One Mother to Another, wrote this book. It’s a collection of stories from her own life with two boys, and it’s amazing. It came out less than a month ago, and already has amazing reviews on Amazon. Check it out on your e-reader, too!American Wife, by Curtis Sittengren. I read this book several years ago, and the story still haunts me. It’s about an unlikely woman who becomes First Lady, and her struggle to stay true to herself and support her husband at the same time. So good!

Girl on the Train. I know this one is a little older (I was late to the game reading it last summer) but it’s still great. If you don’t normally jump on the “new, trendy book train”, you should make an exception for this. 

Deep Cries Out. Written by another writer I started reading online, Kristen Lavalley (whose blog inspired me to start my own) this is a 30-day devotional for moms in the trenches. They’re short, but deep and life-giving.

Yes Please. Amy Poehler’s memoir is still one of my favorite things I’ve read in the past few years. She’s hilarious, and I love her on screen and on the page. LOVE YOU, AMY!

Divergent. I know- young adult literature. But sometimes, you need a book (or series!) that sucks you in, keeps your attention, and isn’t so complicated to read. It’s a great vacation read! AND I always like to read he booms that movies are based on. Which leads me to…

Lord of the Rings. I’m actually reading this right now. It’s my third or fourth try, but the first time I’m actually enjoying it. Tolkien has always been laborious for me, but for some reason, this time I’m flying through and totally enjoying myself. So if you’ve tried and failed at LOTR in the past, I encourage you to give it another shot!

Well there’s a nice little list for you. What are you reading? Should I read it, too?!