Tag Archives: book reviews

My Own Book Club

When my sister helped me set my Word Press account, she introduced me to the Widgets that I could apply to my page. Not wanting to overcrowd my page, I just kept to a simple format, but did apply one that linked to Goodreads. Before starting my blog, I had never heard of Goodreads. I have always loved to read, but never thought of recording my books started, finished or under the “want to read” category–let alone write reviews about the book when I did finish. I just did so in my mind. I didn’t consider books as a social activity.

At least not until this year. As I started to read more good books, I started to discuss them. Most of the time it was with Mom, as friends for me were still in Colorado. During the same week as my blood clot surgery, the ladies Bible study that I had signed up to attend had started. Missing only a few times, I got to know these women and respected their godly wisdom as I was the youngest in the group. Today, two of these ladies are now good friends. Age shows no boundaries in friendship. As Spring turned into Summer, I also started to get to know a few people in town. My friends were now more than just acquaintances. I still Skype, email, text and write letters to my dear friends in Colorado and wherever else they may reside, but having friends in the current area has been a joy.

I bring up friends (and I include family members in this too), because like myself, many are avid readers, love the library, and don’t mind if I bring up a few good book title recommendations. I decided books run in my blood line. 🙂 Now, I can’t tell you why I started this year to see books as social activity, but when it first started, I found that when I shared what I considered to be a good read, I enjoyed being able to remember what I read. Sounds funny, I know. But I was never good at reading to remember (unless it is an exceptional read.) This is why I preferred final papers over final tests in school.

Now that the year is nearing its end, I am glad that I have a Goodreads account. I looked back at the books I read this year–some I liked, others not so much; some I bought, some I borrowed, some I gave away when I finished; some I checked out from the library, some I read in a coffee shop, some I finished in the car on a road trip. There are still many to enjoy, which is the point of this blog post: I will now share my year-long secret with you. Actually, it is not really a secret, but it is sort of silly so I never told anyone.

In March, I noticed on Goodreads that there were different polls and book recommendations on the side margins. I noticed one in particular–a reading challenge: how many books are you going to read this year? I didn’t think much on it, thought it would be fun and set my challenge: my 2013 reading challenge. 40 books. I thought that was a good number…not too low, yet not high where I felt it unreachable. I was so serious about it when I first started, then forgot about it all together and hardly read at all during the summer. Something about students returning to campus, the thought of classes and learning and hours of studies in coffee shops got my mind refocused on enjoying book or two. On Monday I was writing a book review on Goodreads and finally checked my number for the challenge, as I was clueless of how many more books I needed in order to make my goal. According to the stats, I have read 39 books…one more to go to reach my challenge. 🙂

The book challenge was never my motive for reading, but it encouraged me to keep reading (at the times when I remembered I even had a goal to reach.) Would I set another challenge for next year? I have thought about it. If I did, I would challenge myself to read a few more than 40–but would keep my number a secret. 😉 But I don’t think numbers are important. It is not about how much I read, but how well I read–what I discover in the text, decipher in my thoughts, and share with others. That is what I consider a good read.

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Book review: The Vow

I’ve never done a book review before, only book reports or research papers–but never an official “review” per say. Though I have mentioned book summaries on here before, such as Kathy Van Riper’s A Race Worth Running, I am not sure of what a book review entitles. Which is a pity, only because I never give reviews on Goodreads or other websites like Barnes and Nobles about what books I just completed or struggled through; how spectacular (or not so spectacular) a certain read is. Of course, it is all humble opinion. You have heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I like to add, “Or its title; or its book review.” 🙂

Over this weekend, I had the chance to read The Vow by Kim and Krickett Carpenter. For all the books I have on my list of “to-read” or “currently reading,” this has never been one. In fact, I had never even heard of the Carpenter’s story, until the movie based on the true events hit theatres last year. Completely forgetting about it, I get a text from my friend a few months ago who asked me if I had read the book. “Is that a Nicholas Sparks book?”, I text back. Shame, I know–but the title just sounded like something that he could have penned. She responded back and told me a brief synopsis of the book and then brought up the movie. “Oh, I know which one you are talking about!” Like a lightbulb came on. She was just finishing the book and sent me her copy to read for myself. And I am glad I did!

The Carpenter’s story of life, faith through every circumstance and love challenged me from the moment I started the first chapter. As I moved from the opening chapter titled “Boy Meets Girl”–a fun, heart warming reminder of the early 1990’s dating scene: late night phone calls using a land-line phone resulting in huge monthly phone bills, handwritten letters and commuting back and forth to see each other (in the Carpenter’s case, they had a long distance relationship)–I found myself in tears as I started the next. In no way could I imagine the pain endured of what happened two months after their wedding.

Kim and Krickett had just come off a “mountain top” experience: within eight weeks of meeting, they were in love and planning a wedding. Starting life together, they did not imagine that a fatal car accident would leave Krickett with serious head injuries and in a coma for weeks. She suffered short-term memory loss of everything that they just had lived a few months prior. She did not–and to this day–ever regained memory of meeting Kim, dating him, or getting married to him.

As I continued reading, I was greatly encouraged by the Carpenter’s faith. The book is written mostly from Kim’s point of view and I completely appreciate his honesty about his faith during those trials. Krickett’s faith–even though she suffered brain damage, memory loss, loss of all other function/skills…went through extensive physical, occupational, and speech rehabilitation–still talked about her faith like a solid rock. Personally, I related to the kind of faith Kim endured during those months–trying to do it on my own, forgetting that God holds the bigger picture and cares deeply about every detail in our lives. He promises never to leave us…but that is so easy to forget during the darkest hours.

Doctors did not expect Krickett to make it to the hospital alive, seeing as she had been trapped in the car for more than a half hour, unconscious and bleeding. Doctors did not expect Krickett to make it on the hour flight-for-life helicopter ride from Gallup, NM to Albuquerque. They did not expect her to live through the first full day; the first week; make it to rehabilitation; recover in physical aspects as well as she did (of course, she had been an All-American gymnast in college.) After seven months since the accident, Krickett and Kim found themselves against the odds and literally starting a new life together. After seeking help, the Carpenter’s started to date again, even though they were married. Krickett needed the new memories as the old wasn’t to be found. After a season of “re-falling in love,” they had a renew of vows ceremony. The rest goes from there.

In the last chapter, Kim writes,

Although Krickett has never gained any memory of meeting, dating. or marrying me (the first time), our life today could not be greater. After all we have been through enduring the trials and tribulations that have confronted us, we know that there will be more to come. That’s just how life works. But we have a great sense of appreciation and thankfulness for what God has given us. We have been truly blessed. (175)

As I neared the end of the book, I thought to myself, “I am not even married and this shows what true love and seeking God with our whole lives is about.” Then I thought how I can tend to focus on the past, but there is no need for that…instead seeking to live out for today to the best of my ability. Of course, it will be a habit I need to work on. Like today, Mom and I went to swing at the park. I told her in the car how I used to walk everyday after class at CCU to the local park and swing for a half hour or so, then walk back. Then I added, “I can’t do that anymore.” Then I went on to say how my body is not the same as it was last year around this time, or even from Thanksgiving, to just a month ago. I do not think of my body being on a downward spiral, but when I look at the bigger picture…most often that is what I see–until I remember (or am humbly reminded) of all that I have been blessed with even in the darkest hours.

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”

Job 23:10

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies