Semi-Annual Book Reviews

Semi-Annual Book Reviews

At the start of 2019, I resolved to read two books per month – one fiction and one non-fiction.

Here are the books I’ve read:

[The star ratings are for my own amusement and only reflect how much I personally enjoyed reading the book.]

January

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This is one of those classics that I hadn’t read previously – so it was time. My favorite part of the book was actually the opening paragraph which contains great advice and is quite profound.

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.‘”

7 by Jen Hatmaker

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This book restored my faith in fundamental Christianity – to a degree. I already wrote a whole post about this book: Environmentalism isn’t just for Liberal Tree-Huggers. If you consider yourself to be a Christian, you should read this book.

February

I Want It by Jill Soloway

⭐️ ⭐️

I randomly picked this book up at the library. An interesting memoir, though not what I expected – it challenged how I view the transgender issues our country is currently grappling with.

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This book has been on my list for a long time. While I don’t agree with everything Harris writes [I am not an atheist], I do agree with many of his observations about religion in America.

The Kite Runner by Kahled Hosseini

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I LOVED this book! It’s much better than the movie – read it!

“Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.” -Rahim Khan in The Kite Runner

The End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias

⭐️

This book was written in response to Sam Harris’s book above (Letter to a Christian Nation). Unfortunately, Zacharias comes off as an emotional kid who has had his feelings hurt. He also commits the same mistakes he accuses Sam Harris of committing. The truth is, both books were written for the people who already share their worldview. Neither will be effective at changing the others’ mind – so why did they even bother?

The Unstoppable Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Antonia Felix

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This is a FANTASTIC book. This woman has become my hero for being just plain brilliant and for dramatically improving the rights of women in America. [The documentary, RBG, and the movie, On the Basis of Sex, are also great.] Ginsburg’s story impacted me so profoundly that I almost named my baby Ruth…almost.

“In striving to drain dry the waters of prejudice and oppression, we must rely on measures of our own creation – upon the wisdom of our laws and the decency of our institutions, upon our reasoning minds and our feeling hearts. And as a constant spark to carry on, upon our vivid memories of the evils we wish to banish from our world…May that memory strengthen our resolve to aid those at home and abroad who suffer from injustice due to ignorance and intolerance, to combat crimes that stem from racism and prejudice, and to remain ever engaged in the quest for democracy and respect for the human dignity of all the world’s people.”

– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Amen.

This woman has restored my faith that someday America may be great again – not because our economy is booming and our unemployment rate is low. Not because we have abundant wealth and prosperity, safety and security – but because we once again are concerned for “the human dignity of all the world’s people.”

March

Pussy by Regena Thomashauer

⭐️

I stumbled upon this book in my search for works on modern feminism – and it is just plain weird. I think Mama Gena might really believe that the source of life is in her who-who. Of course, she prefers to use the “p” word…

To each their own, I suppose.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Another great book! Fiction, though loosely based on a true love story that is both terrifying and inspiring.

Weconomy by Craig and Marc Keilberger and Holly Branson

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This is a great book that taught me to use my current sphere of influence to impact the world. For a year, I had been begging Brett to move to a clothing retailer that is transparent and committed to ethical and sustainable practices, but this book showed me how he is able to use his position in his current company to encourage the business to be more socially and sustainably minded. And I have realized my own responsibility to use the spaces I have been given [my part-time job and my children] to make a difference in the world.

I learned so many other things from these three leaders in the charitable world. You really should read this book!

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This book was a gift from my cousin and I am so grateful for it because it really helped me to understand the people around me so much better. I highly recommend this book for everyone who wants to help end poverty here and around the world.

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

An easy read – I think I read it in one afternoon – but I don’t really understand the point. I wish I had read it in school and could have benefited from a classroom discussion.

April

Posture Alignment by Paul D’Arezzo

⭐️ ⭐️

I’ve had this book for a long time as a resource for my personal training clients, but never read through it. While it contains useful information, it is boring. Not my favorite read this year – but I did have a client with some posture alignment issues shortly after reading it and recommended many of the corrective exercises in this book.

The Rough Guide to a Better World by Martin Wroe and Malcolm Doney

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This is a free ebook [read it here] that was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). In only 112 pages, there is a TON of information here about how to help end poverty in our world. The issues facing developing countries are complex and challenging, but we are not powerless to help. This little book showed me the importance of fair trade, charitable giving, volunteering, and even eco-tourism [which I had never heard of before].

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I picked this up because it is on Emma Watson’s book club list. I can’t believe I had never read it. There is a lot of beauty and wisdom in this story.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” – The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Now I have to watch the movie.

The New Homesteader by Bella and Nick Ivins

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

While it was fascinating to read how the Ivins have turned this beautiful property into a self-sufficient Homestead, the best part of this book is definitely the gorgeous photography!

How to be a Woman by Caitlyn Moran

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This is another book from Emma Watson’s book club list. Caitlyn Moran is hilarious – and I listened to her reading it on the audiobook, making it even funnier. Sometimes it really does suck to be a woman [ok, more than sometimes], but this book helps. Though I don’t agree with her definition of feminism [or some of her other viewpoints], I like her unapologetic style.

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This book is super practical and makes waste reduction super simple. I already wrote about the book here: My 34 Ways to Go Zero Waste.

“In today’s world, one of the most radical things you can do is find contentment.”

101 Ways to Go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg

The Backyard Homestead edited by Carleen Madigan

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Riveting reading – just kidding. But a super useful resource that was so educational I will have to borrow from the library again when we get ready to plant our garden or raise chickens or make our own cheese.

May

The HIIT Advantage by Irene Lewis-McCormick

⭐️

This is a textbook about using high intensity interval training for women. I read it for my personal training recertification. First of all, I learned nothing new. Secondly, there was absolutely nothing gender specific in the book. Third, there shouldn’t be anything gender specific because HIIT workouts are the same for male and female. 😡

Thirst by Scott Harrison

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

LOVE this book! What an inspiring story about an inspirational non-profit working to provide access to clean water to everyone in the world! I am proud to be a supporter of this organization.

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

One of my favorite books on childbirth [and I have ready MANY]! A must read for any woman who is even considering having a baby.

Letters to the Church by Francis Chan

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I have a lot of respect for Francis Chan and I am grateful for this book which I hope will help to change the American church.

“We must stop creating safe places to hide and start developing fearless warriors to send out.”

– Francis Chan

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Another book on Emma Watson’s book club list. It was strange and not my favorite. I like my fiction to have deep philosophical themes – but more about love and peace and good virtues – and less about a creepy future dystopia. Maybe that’s just me. 🤷‍♀️

June

Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This book was fascinating – and terrifying. I’m afraid to buy any clothing ever again… but that fear leads to greater resolve to make more intentional, informed choices when it comes to what’s in my wardrobe. We shouldn’t want to be willfully ignorant.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I have to admit, I got impatient during this book [which is sad because it is short]. But the payoff in the end was worth it. There are several great themes and lessons in this story.

“When you’re on a journey to fulfill your personal legend, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

And from now on, I will refer to my life’s purpose as my “personal legend” because that sounds cooler.


Wow – that was a long list. I doubt I’ll be able to read as much now that the baby has arrived. But these first six months of 2019 have been very educational for me and I have even enjoyed the fiction books!

Happy reading!

📚 📚 📚

Karis

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