Friday, August 13, 2010

What I Read In July

A few thoughts about the books I read in July:

One For The Money, Two For The Dough and Three To Get Deadly (The first three books of the Stephanie Plum mystery series) by Janet Evanovich - I read all three of these while we were at the lake house. Nearly all of the books in this series have made it to the New York Times bestseller list. (It is now up to 16/plus a few side stories like Plum Spooky and Visions of Sugar Plums) Despite a great opening line in book one ("There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever."), I just don't get the appeal. I wish I had quit after the first one and read something that interested me more.

Love And War: Finding the Marriage You've Dreamed Of by John and Stasi Eldredge - I loved John's book Wild At Heart and their combined effort, Captivating. So, I was really looking forward to reading this book. With 29 years of 'marital bliss' under our belts, I have come to realize that marriages need tune-ups just as much as vehicles do. Maybe even more. This is just that kind of book. John and Stasi have just celebrated 25 years of marriage themselves, so even though this book would be great for newlyweds, it is written from the viewpoint of battle scarred veterans. (If you have been married longer than a month, I am pretty sure you have a few scars of your own.)

One of the things that has really stuck with me as I read this book is that I am not the only woman who feels like she is "a disappointment". Seriously. If Jim says, "I couldn't find any clean socks this morning." I hear, "You are such a bad wife that you can't even keep up with the laundry." If he says, "The kids didn't do their chores today." I hear, "Your children are going to be undisciplined slobs because you are such a bad mother." Don't judge me. I am just being honest with you. It is nice to hear from 'the experts' that this is all a result of being a woman living in a fallen world. (The man has his own 'demons' to deal with - that of feeling like he isn't 'man enough' to provide for and protect that which has been entrusted to him.)

The other thing that stuck with me was from Chapter 11, entitled "The Chapter On Sex". Boiled down to three lines, the Eldredges have this to say:
  • You need to do it. Often. In a way you both enjoy it. Immensely.
  • If this isn't the case, then you need to deal with why it isn't.
  • 'Cause you need to do it. Often. In a way you both enjoy it. Immensely.

Enough said.

Jemima J: A Novel About Ugly Ducklings And Swans by Jane Green - Last summer I read a recommendation for this book on another blog (I can't remember which one). I went in search of it, couldn't find it, bought a different book by this author and promptly forgot all about it. (Though I did enjoy reading the book I picked up in it's place, The Beach House) Fast forward to this summer where I stumbled across the book at Barnes and Noble during one of my afternoon jaunts through the store. I decided to see if it was worth all the fuss...and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It is a little bit dated (written in 1999) and it was tough getting past the beginning of the 'online dating' storyline. After all, we now know that not everyone on the Internet is who they present themselves to be...whereas, the characters in the novel respond in a very naive fashion since the Internet and online dating are both a new phenomena. I enjoyed getting to know the main character, Jemima J, who is overlooked at work and in her personal life predominately because she is 100 pounds overweight. She longs for a better life and is constantly planning to begin that new diet...after this one cookie...oh, might as well eat the whole bag so that it is not a temptation tomorrow. Since I am currently battling my own lethargy towards weight loss these days, it was nice to have a heroine that I could relate to. The Ugly Duckling does become a Swan, but by the end of the book she also finds out that beauty is on the inside and that you are still who you were...even though you weigh 100 pounds less! I needed that reminder.

Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell - I picked up this book on a recommendation from Tim Challies over at 10MillionWords. He reviewed Gladwell's newest book, What the Dog Saw and commented that the earlier works were I started with Blink. The premise of the book is that we all 'thin-slice'; make an opinion of someone or something using only a brief experience. Sometimes those judgments prove to be good, sometimes they prove to be bad, and oftentimes they prove to hold some prejudice. Gladwell challenges us to trust our first impressions unless we know that there is something in those impressions that have nothing to do with the person or idea in front of us. I understand where he is going with the idea, yet I found the book to be boring. There are some good illustrations but I find that they are built on questionable surveys or obscure studies. I have always heard that polls and statistics are just numbers and you can make them say whatever you want them to say. I agree.

If I were to rate the books I read in July, it would be:
The Stephanie Plum Mystery Novels - 2 stars (You can escape in them...they just weren't that interesting to me.)

Love and War - 5 stars (This one is a keeper, having earned it's spot in my personal library.)

Jemima J - 4 stars (Good, but I probably will not read it again.)

Blink - 1 star (Nothing highlighted, was barely able to finish it.)

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