Tag Archives: books

Whitney Family Book Swap

25 Mar

Last November I birthed a new and wonderful idea. I immediately talked to Julie and Will and they got on board. The first annual Whitney Family Book Swap was born.

For starters, all of us like to read. Some get more done than others, but some (me) have more time than others (Julie and Will). For Christmas we each purchased our favorite book we read in 2012. On Christmas Eve we unwrapped someone else’s book and made the solemn vow to read all of them before Christmas 2013.

What better time to try some new reading material than Christmas break? So here’s what we unwrapped.

book swap

Yes, Julie has brown hair now, and yes, Will is wearing a tuxedo tshirt.

I tackled Redeeming Love while on vacation in Argentina, and I just finished  West of Dodge towards the end of February. I thought this would be a cool way to try new books and something new for us to talk about rather than how crazy our parents are and who is going to change Dad’s diaper when he’s 106. Kidding.

Now, I realize that this blog post was still on my “To Blog List.” Sorry it’s way late. When I run, I blog in my head and sometimes I can’t keep track of things I post here and posts that still live in my noggin.

In October I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and LOVED it! That was my contribution to the swap. Julie really liked it and my mom sorta liked it. Will, feel free to read it over spring break!

Gone Girl is a thriller about a missing woman, narrated by her old diary entires and her husband, the prime suspect. Surprisingly, I hated all the characters by the end, but I still enjoyed the book. Both of the characters had strong voices, but Gillian did a marvelous job weaving them together. There is an element of suspense to the whole read, urging you to finish one more chapter before you go to bed. I judge a book by its negative impact on my sleep. This one was incredible.

Although “Girl” is in the title, I don’t think it’s a super-feminine book. hopefully Will doesn’t either. I picked it to gift because I thought both Julie and Will would get into it. They are both students and I knew it was a page-turner. Also, who doesn’t love a mystery?

Julie’s contribution, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, was a Christian Romance novel. I haven’t read a romance novel in years, so it was defiantly different territory than my current reading list.

Loosely based on the book of Hosea, it follows a prostitute during the gold rush in California. She is saved/kidnapped by a farmer who rescues her from her terrible life and at the same time sort of holds her hostage. The man, who is written to be dreamy (strong yet sensitive) came off a little in your face to me. It was great that he took her out of the brothel, but I’m not sure his approach was the most considerate.

The Book of Hosea is virtually unknown to me, so I enjoyed learning about it and doing some more research. Redeeming Love also opened my eyes to the cycle of prostitution and how hard it was/is for a woman to stop and create a life of her own. Those women have virtually no other life skills and very few people still willing to help them.

Will’s pick, West of Dodge by Louis L’Amour, was a book of short stories by one of the Whitneys’ favorite writers. My dad is a big Louis fan, and we’ve all read a bunch from the shelf in the basement. I was glad to read some short stories instead of a long narrative to switch up my pace. I should do that more often!

The stories were mostly about cowboys and took place in western towns. By the end of the book, they all felt a little repetitive. Good guy defeats bad guy, usually gets a girl. Louis does a wonderful job setting a scene and building suspense. He’s a gifted writer, and I wish I could do those things half as well. A quick, but fun read.

So that’s what I thought of the three books for 2012. Maybe if we start a chant Julie and Will might do guest posts?!?! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!

What was your favorite book of 2012? What book do you wish you could guilt your siblings into reading?


Losing Thrones steam

19 Jul

So as you may have noticed, I’m totes into Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire. I started the fifth book of the series, A Dance with Dragons, about a month ago.

The fourth book, A Feast for Crows, was pretty slow-moving. It followed some of my least favorite characters and seemed like a 1,000 page set up for some action. But the action never really came.

I started the fifth book and it’s moving at a better pace, but I’ve lost the will to read. What is my deal? While I’m reading it, I’m totally into it. I try to read a chapter or two each night (that’s why it’s taking for-ev-er) but I never seem to make time on weekends. I think I’m a little tired of school work and driving. There is some lake time in my future, so hopefully I can wrap that up!

But I can do it! Maybe I just need some cheesey Pinterest motivation….

Oh shoot, neither of those have anything to do with anything.

Game of Thrones: Book vs.TV

10 May

Oh hey readers, as you know I’ve become quite the Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire fan. I’m (slowly) working through the fourth book of the series A Feast for Crows and watching the second season each Sunday night. I feel a little nerdy, but many of my friends are equally excited about the books and the movies. Also, Beyonce and Baby Blue watch the TV show, so I know I’m in good company.

To be real, I’m not trying to be a snarky reader in this post. I am a firm believer that you should read the book before the movie or the show, but listen to your heart. Everyone is different, I’m a book worshiper.

It’s funny to hear some of my friend’s reactions to the TV show without any of the reading. They have a different view of the characters because they are missing the inner dialogue and some of the smaller, character-building moments you can only get from reading a thousand page book.

Daaaaaad, I found a direwolf puppy, can I keep him? Pleeeeeeease?

Each week a group of us go to Stef and Alex’s to eat dinner and watch together. About half have read the book so we’re pretty invested. We get mad when they deviate from George RR’s masterpiece. A lot of times I whisper to Josh, “That didn’t happen in the book, did it?”

One of the biggest things the show has done is simplify the characters. The series has over 1000 different people. For time and money and confused viewer’s sake, the show is able to skip certain parts and take out some characters all together. Convenient, I guess.

I couldn’t possibly write this post without tipping my hat to the elephant in the room: boobs. The TV show has a lot a lot a lot of nudity and a lot of dozing it. Well, so does the book. I think the ratio of raunchy scenes to general scenes in the TV show is maybe 1:15 in the book it’s probably closer to 1:50.

In the book, George RR loves to describe all the food at the feasts. Literally, I know about every blood sausage every person eats, ever. I think food does not get a lot of love in the show. I’m not mad about it, just saying.

Some of the actors were so perfectly cast that I can’t even use my imagination on them anymore: Cersi, Jon Snow (ha makes uggs look gooood), the Hound and Arya. Some of them are less close. The Wall is definitely different than I pictured it, in my head it wasn’t as big.

The biggest perk of the show is the theme/intro. I wish that would play every time I opened the book.

Books to reread

14 Jan

As a rule I don’t reread books. I know people who’ve read the Harry Potter series 10 times through. That’s nice. I love Harry too, but there are millions of books I will never get to, and to read one book 10 times? That’s not fair to the countless books unread who never got a chance and to me, because I already know what’s going to happen.

I think the second time around I’d probably pick up different things and enjoy the style of writing more. Many people believe reading things at different stages in life will make a different impression on you. It’s like how the first time I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory I couldn’t sleep for a week out off fear of turning into a blueberry. Later I watched the movie again, laughed and truly appreciated it.

In the perfect world I could erase a book from my memory so I could reread it and full enjoy it the second time around. I’ll ask Tommy Lee Jones to borrow the MIB mindzapper thing. Maybe that’s part of the charm in the second read, knowing what is coming and being more attentive to details and foreshadowing.

Is rereading a book like smelling an old boyfriend’s scent? Does it bring back memories? Will it take me back to 17? I kind of doubt it. Will I still like the same characters as much as I did the first time? I hope so.

Maybe there are a few books worth rereading, and if I had to pick, here are my choices.

Charlotte’s Web- I used to love this book and now I can’t really remember much about it except the spider leaves notes in her web. Oh, and the pig’s name is Wilbur, which is strikingly similar to my brother’s name- Will.

Jane Eyre– I’ve actually started this one again because it’s free on my iPad. It was assigned reading for freshman comp in high school. I played Mr. Rochester in our class’ reinaction (in an all-girls schools, you sometimes have to bite the bullet and play the old man). Also, the movie looks kinda good and I want to reread it before I see it.

Catcher in the Rye– I restarted this one also. I loved Holden Caufield my sophomore year of high school and though J.D. Salinger’s rambling stream of consciousnesses was accurate and a little unsettling.

Life of Pi– My Aunt Judy recommended this book to me and I loved it. I still think about it pretty often, so maybe it’s time to reread.

Wicked– I read this for the first time senior year of high school (I think?). Since, I’ve seen the show which is very very different. The sequels are on my list to read, but to be honest I don’t remember enough about the original.

Any suggestions?

Challenging reading

4 Aug

I’ve forgotten how much I’ve missed reading for fun. It’s so nice to pick up a real book (I haven’t gone to the dark side of the Kindle or the Nook yet, but maybe someday…) instead of looking at a computer monitor. This summer I’ve made a dent in my stack. No matter how many I read I am continually adding to my “Read this next” list.

Two books (well, technically a book and a series) have made a big impact on me this summer and provided me food for thought on my walks and lunch breaks.

First, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s about a woman challenging her societal role in Jackson, MI, in the 1960’s. She interviews black maids, some who even work for her close friends, to write a book about their lives. Many of them raise white children who later grow up to be racist.

The book really opened my eyes to that time period. It was well-before I was alive and my parents and grandparents did not have maids or any similar experience. It was so risky to offer even simple comforts to the wrong person. It also blew my mind how people with so much wealth can stand to watch someone suffer in poverty.

Civil rights was such a charged time in American history. I always wonder, if that had been my period, would I have stood up for what’s right? What about my parents? My friends? Just like Skeeter (the writer in The Help), the actions and attitudes of the people surrounding me would have a huge impact on my own feelings.

It’s not totally a dead subject though, there are human rights violations happening all over as well as inequality. Am I doing my best to do the right thing? I know there are people around me suffering, I need to do better. So much to think about.

The other big hitter on my reading list this summer is The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It’s sci-fi, which is not me at all. I generally like books that I believe, which means they take place in real settings. I didn’t expect to like these, but they are blowing my mind.

Without giving too much away, the story is about a girl named Katniss who lives in a futuristic oppressive society where America is today. She is forced to be a tribute in a reality TV-type show where she will try to outlast other kids from other districts. Basically, she’s in the woods just hunting and being hunted.

In the meantime, her government is oppressive and her family is starving.

It gives the reader a glimpse of adolescent life in a warring area. I can’t imagine growing up with the stress of providing for my family and living in constant fear of the government. My heart aches for kids growing up in situations like that. Even when the war is over, youth have lost their childhood and naivety after such an awful experience. Growing up in a generation affected by war can affect a child for the rest of his or her life.

Collins created masterful characters that feel as close as my own family. There is a love story and a little sister to tug on the heartstrings.

I can’t decide if they are children’s books or not. They are written simply and are easy to read. On the other hand, the ideas are complex and very political. Collins’ voice comes through in her portrayal of the government, especially evil President Snow.

Up next? Maybe Bossypasnts by Tina Fey, just to switch it up.

What does she do besides work?

23 Jul

It’s pretty cool to have spare time. Let me tell you! Not at work, I’m pretty busy working on a few different projects. But when I come home the evening is my oyster! I’ve found a few things to do…

First, cleaning and organizing. I’ve cleaned out my massive closet and attempted to mentally prepare to move into a bedroom with a normal closet. We’ll see how that goes next week. I couldn’t decide whether or not to keep a bin of costumes with me or to send those home to St. Louis. Not surprisingly, they’re still here. It’s been nice to start an episode of This American Life and get ‘er done. If This American Life just isn’t cutting it, Beyonce or Wicked ALWAYS get the job done.

Read me!

I’ve really enjoyed having time to read, although I’ve been more faithful towards the beginning of the summer. I read The Help which was wonderful. Since it was set in Jackson, Mississippi, it got me in the mood for summer and heat. It centers around an accidental activist writer in the 60’s who stands up for the poor treatment of black maids in her area. Reading civil rights books always makes me wonder if I would have been brave enough to say and think those things. I also loved Water for Elephants and Congo. Now I’m working on The Little Chinese Seamstress.

I’m planning some crafting. Perhaps this weekend.

One aspect of my life that’s gotten a little out of control is my serious addiction to Veronica Mars. Yes, the TV show from 2004. Kristen Bell is wonderful as the witty grown up Nancy Drew-ish character. Luckily Erin has all three seasons on DVD, so I can watch one for breakfast and one for dinner everyday. It’s witty and punny and Veronica lives a dreamy yet complicated life. A little bit of me wishes it were a book instead, but it’s so good I can’t stop.

The next week will be all about packing and cleaning to get ready for the big (two block) move!