Brag Race: May

I’m starting a new thing, if that’s okay with you. Here’s the deal: every once and a while I’ll brag to you about things that I’ve done or accomplished that I’m happy about. This is one of those times. It’s a Brag Race. (It’s also a terrible pun).

As I may or may not have shared, my reading goal for 2016 is 60 books. That’s an average of 5 books a month. Well, wouldn’t you know I’m right on track so far this year, and it so happens that I have some thoughts about the books I’ve read this month. So, allow me to brag about the books I’ve read and hopefully you can tolerate it. (Also feel free to track my reading progress/ book likes and dislikes via Goodreads.)

  1. Lirael (Abhorsen, #2) by Garth Nix // To be fair I did listen to this one in my car during my morning and afternoon commute, but audiobooks totally count. This book is a continuation of the Abhorsen series, the first of which was Sabriel, and was honestly pretty okay. I very much appreciate the series being classified as YA while dealing with more mature issues and situations, however I found Lirael to fall short of what Sabriel was. It’s magical quality didn’t capture me like the first did, and the characters fell rather flat to me.
  2. What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire by Charles Bukowski // While I’ve always been an admirer of Bukowski’s poetry, this was the first full collection of his I’ve made my way through. I started this collection in December of 2015, and only finished it this month. (One should never rush through a large collection of poetry, in my opinion. Read one or two a day. That’s what I do.) This collection was absolutely remarkable. The raw and naked quality of Bukowski’s writing, and the unadulterated confessional quality to his words so very deeply resonate with me. If you don’t mind mention of hookers, gambling, poverty, or the daily grind of life, I highly recommend this collection.  
  3. A Man Without A Country by Kurt Vonnegut // I’ve only ever read Vonnegut’s fiction, and I’m not sure what I expected from his nonfiction, but it has the exact same wit and tone. A few of my very favorite quotes from Vonnegut come from this short little piece (which I’ll include at the end of this post). This book surprised me. As much as Vonnegut alludes to his dissatisfaction with American way of life in his fiction, here he is much more explicit. The title alone should be enough to get the point across.
  4.  The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs by Peter Enns // I love this man’s work. I had the privilege of studying under him for many classes at Eastern University, and I take great pride in that. (Got all A’s in his classes too, except for one B #brag). This book was such a relief for me. It’s as if Enns has simply verbalized what’s been on the mind of many young individuals like myself for so long. (i.e. have grown up in the church learning one thing, then having our world shifted upside down the moment we step into a higher education of biblical / religious studies). Enns gets very real and personal with the ideas of correct thinking and the destructive quality that may come with having “correct thinking” above a truly living faith.
  5. Forty-Five: Poems by Frieda Hughes // Oh, what a disappointment this collection was. (And yes two out of the five books this month were poetry  collections, get over it.) Honestly, the idea of this collection seemed so great! The premise was that Hughes wrote one poem that would represent each year of her life so far (Yes including the good the bad and the ugly of her mothers suicide and fathers second marriage.) However after “Year Eleven”, it suddenly became a chore to read. I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t like it at first, but it’s true. I didn’t like it. And yes, maybe I did pick it up because she’s the daughter of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, but I tried so hard not to put an expectation on her! (It didn’t work).

So there you have it. The five books I’ve read in the month of May. If I have enough motivation, or if I finish five books in June, you may see another one of these. Below are the Vonnegut quotes as promised.

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies- Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

“So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or in the Supreme Court or in the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.”

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