Reading Challenge Update

I’ve fallen behind in my reading challenge for the same reason I haven’t been updating the blog much lately – life got really busy. It’s starting to slow down again to a less frantic pace, so hopefully I can catch up on my reading, knitting, and sewing. I seriously need to catch up on my sewing – there is a growing stack of clothing and toys that need repair, half-finished projects, and fabric that has been cut and needs to be sewn into wearable pieces of clothing.

But back to the books…..

I’m going to do quick little reviews again of the books I’ve read since the last reading challenge post.

A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: I don’t even know where to start with this review. Every time I sit down to write something short and concise to sum up the plot and my thoughts on it, I get so many thoughts rushing to the front of my brain that I can’t think of a coherent one to write down. To me that’s a good sign though. This book made me think a lot. Some of it I am still processing.

The story is about a woman named OfFred. She’s typical of a modern American woman – has a family, career, friends, bank account and all the other rights and privileges that we all assume we should receive. Then the religious extremists take over and strip women of all their rights and possessions and even their names. (The handmaids are named Of + the name of the male they belong to.)  Atwood explores what our country would look like if religious extremism is taken to it’s logical conclusion. I thought it was very well done. There was a lot of confusion in the book that left me wondering what exactly was going on and how it happened. Tt helped create a sense of urgency that kept the story moving forward. As the story unfolds, Atwood reveals the how’s and the what’s in a way that kept me engaged in the story and made me completely identify with the main character.

It’s an unsettling story, especially given all the events lately regarding women’s healthcare. I think I would have found this book unsettling if I had read it when it was first published in 1986, but on a much different level. What I took away from the book is that rights are fleeting and we should not take them for granted or be too complacent in life.

It was a book that will stick with me for a long time. Those are the best kind of books.

House of Thieves by Kaui Hart Hemmings: I chose this book because it was a Kindle “deal of the day” and it contains the story Minor Wars, which inspired the movie and book The Descendants. I’ve not seen the movie or read the book yet, but the trailer intrigued me enough to be curious about the story behind it. I enjoyed this book. It is a collection of short stories about dysfunctional, upper-class, Hawaiian families. Not all the stories were great, but enough were that I kept reading. The characters are all complex and none of them had any real resolution to their stories – a lot like life. It offered a reminder of how complicated modern life can be. The stories made me uncomfortable, and they were a bit dark and unsettling, but most of them stuck with me and I had a hard time putting the book down. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of her work.

The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell: I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in this book. It is about the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and it draws parallels to modern day evangelicals and some current events. I was so excited to read it because this time period in our history fascinates me.  I was also hoping that this would be a good book to bring some factual light to the mythological creatures that the Puritans have become in America in a way that I could recommend it to friends and family that normally find history boring.

It is well researched, and there are a lot of interesting historical bits presented that most people probably don’t know about, but about half-way through the book it slowed down to an almost unreadable pace. She went off on so many tangents, and added so much detail about some of the figures, that I honestly got bored and lost in a few places. (And this is coming from someone who loves to read history books.) The end picked up again though, and I was able to finish it. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as some of her other books that I’ve read. I’m also not sure that I will be recommending it to too many others as I had originally hoped.

Bite Me by Christopher Moore: The third book in Moore’s Love Story trilogy, where a large gang of vampire cats are threatening San Fransisco. It didn’t disappoint – it was funny, but not as good as the first two in the series. It was a great way to waste a lazy Sunday afternoon, though.

Right now I am reading: Liars for Jesus by Chris Rodda, The New Organic Grower by Eliot Coleman so I can learn how to start up our future hobby farm, and Purple Hibiscus by Chimanmanda Ngozi Adichie.

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