My 2017 Book Challenge

One of my goals this year was to read 12 books. That’s one book each month. Sounds pretty simple but folks, I haven’t read an entire book since before pregnancy. I just don’t know how moms do it. Well this year I’m determined to get back into reading. Since our recent move, we also gained commutes (approx 30 min each way) and while during the school year I usually have the kids in tow, this summer I am kidless for over an hour in the car a day. It’s been so joyous and serene and peaceful and just something I actually look forward to. And that is thanks to audio books. I have always listened to an obscene amount of podcasts but those are shorter and length and more accomplishable (#notaword). I’m also trying to do more at night besides having the TV on in the background so books and audio books are on my mind a lot this year.

The thing is, I really enjoy reading. I love diving into a different world, leaving all my worries and fears behind for a new adventure. With the addition of children, I found that each year I get less and less sleep. I try to pick up a book and read one line and then immediately fall asleep. You would think that since L & P are 4 and almost 3 that I would be getting more and more sleep and yet, Andy and I don’t seem to make it to bed until midnight or even 1 AM. This past year has also been crazy with our kitchen remodel as we are doing pretty much everything ourselves. A lot of times we save projects for when the kids are in bed, which we are also bad at sticking to so around 10 PM has been our normal start a project.

So since it’s June and the year is almost half over (what!?*!), I wanted to recap where I’m at, what I’ve read, what I recommend and what is on my list for the remaining part of 2017.

    1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell | This was an easy read and the first book I picked up in the library in January. It would be a great beach read, easy and light-hearted and yet contains a love story between 2 teenagers. I will say though that I didn’t really like how the book ended. I like more conclusive endings.
    2. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda | Ok, if you have not jumped on the Hamilton musical bandwagon yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR! Besides listening to the soundtrack on Spotify about 1.2348 million times, I have fully indulged myself in all things Hamilton. Did you know, the musical only has 1-2 dialogue parts in the whole musical, so go listen to the soundtrack and you will get the experience everyone is raving about. In addition to just being obsessed with all the great music from Lin-Manual, I have dove deeper into Hamilton that sometimes even I hate to admit. I’ve read Miranda’s book (above) and if you are a 80-90’s kid, please read this. A lot of Miranda’s inspiration comes from those hip-hop artists/songs he (and you and I) grew up with. Why I loved this (paired with the soundtrack)? Miranda played Hamilton on Broadway. That lasted about 6 months. While I know those who have stepped in to replace the original cast is brilliant, this book gives you a glimpse into that real life Broadway show that millions of people will never be able to see or experience (either because Miranda has retired from the show or the $$$ it takes to actually see the show). But really, this book dives into the lyrical mastermind that Miranda actually is. His wordplay and shout-outs to old school rap is just so entertaining. Also, the other thing is that this musical is such a great history lesson. It’s engaging and provides so much knowledge that a lot of American’s previously did not know. Description from Amazon “The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.”
    3. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance | This is a documentary of a man from Middletown, OH, a town just south of Dayton. This book tells a true story of J.D. Vance who was brought up in a poor and rough household and how he made it to the marines and Yale Law School. The book is so intriguing and insightful. Vance not only tells his own story but his feelings as he rises out of poverty.
    4. The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines | While I’m a huge fan of Fixer Upper and Joanna Gaines, this book was hard for me to really dive into. I made it half way through and then stopped reading. While I find Chip and Joanna’s relationship to be fascinating and inspiring, I just couldn’t get into this book for some reason. I actually started following Joanna’s blog long before Fixer Upper even started. I would just rather look at hundreds of before and after of Joanna’s designs than read this book. My SIL and MIL raved about this book though so it just goes to show, not every book is for everyone.
    5. Run by Ann Patchett | I’ve recently discovered Ann Patchett last year when I read Commonwealth, which really grabbed me in the first chapter and sucked me in. I actually found out about Ann Patchett from an interview she did on Fresh Air on NPR. Funny where I come across some of my interests. So I decided to read another book by Patchett. What’s funny is after I read this book, I read an interview Patchett did and when asked what this book was about, Patchett said politics while the interviewer said family. So interesting how different people interpret books differently.
    6. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea by Alyssa Mastromanaco | This book had a lot of good reviews when I went to download it from Audible. The fact that Alyssa herself was the narrator on Audible helped sell me the book. In this book, Alyssa tells her story from her life in the White House. How she went from being Director of Scheduling on Obama’s campaign to his Chief of Staff. For someone who has no interest or insight into politics, this was very intriguing to me. She told stories of her experiences (like flying on Air Force One or meeting the Pope) but was really real behind the hard work and long hours the job required. I absolutely loved this book.
    7. Michelle Obama: A Life | After reading Who Thought This Was a Good Idea, Audible recommended Michelle Obama: A Life. I am a huge fan of Michelle Obama so decided to give it a read. I just loved this book. Of course learning about Michelle Obama was very insightful, but the things I took away most from this book was inspiration as a mother and a working woman. One of lines of the book that really resonated with me was something Barack Obama said of Michelle during a tired and difficult time in her life, a time after kids were brought into the mix. He said “Michelle was sometimes in tears. Competing visions of herself were at war. The desire to be the woman her mother had been; solid, dependable, making a home and always there for her kids; and the desire to excel in her profession, make her mark in the world.” I think that is what most working moms struggle with. My mother struggled with this and I confide in her often about how she did it. Even though I listened to this book on Audible, I want a copy just to keep with pages marked on inspirational stories and quotes. Even if you aren’t an Obama supporter, this book is a great read as it depicts a story of a poor American black girl who struggled her way to success. And even at success, she struggled internally, with her career, as a mother, and as a wife. This may be my favorite book of the year.

On my wish list for the remaining part of 2017

      1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (I’m wanting to re-read the entire series since my niece and nephew are currently reading these)
      2. She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World
      3. He Said/She Said: A Novel by Erin Kelly
      4. America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray
      5. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
      6. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
      7. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

What books have you read in 2017 or any that  you recommend? I’m hoping this reading kick continues as I’m really enjoying making time to read, but of course that means I have to cut things out like kitchen renovation time. Life is all about balance.


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