Friday Favorite: Books I Read Again and Again

I read a lot. A lot, a lot. I have read Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, L.M. Montgomery, Austen, and Twain. I have read L’engle, Rand, Dickens, and Hemingway. I’ve read from serious Edgar Allan Poe to silly Sophie Kinsella and Meg Cabot.

But some of my very favorite books are the ones that I can’t stay away from. The ones I itch to pick up again. The ones I’d be willing to go pick up at midnight when they’re released just to get some closure in a series or trilogy.

Very few books pull me back again and again, forcing me to read them at least once a year. These are my top books, and I hope that you’ll check them out if you haven’t.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.

I’m going to assume that you don’t need much in the way of introduction to these books. I have read this series about 10 or 11 times. I love it. I LOVE it. I am so very impressed by J.K. Rowling’s imagination and attention to detail. Each one is better and more grown up than the one before. In the fifth book, I sympathized so much with how the students hate Umbridge that I could hardly stand to read it the first time through. Rowling just has a way of taking her readers into the story so that they can almost feel like they’re there. I cried so much in the seventh book, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Please give these a try if you haven’t read them before.

Twilight Series and The Host by Stephenie Meyer.

I can hear you laughing now. And I can just imagine the eye rolls. I will admit that the Twilight books are dripping with sappy romance. And since I love reading stories about love, I don’t mind that. In fact, I think it’s kind of cool that some of these kids are high school age (I don’t count the teen-looking vampires since they are about a hundred). The reason being, I fell in love with Tom in high school. People tend to discount teenagers’ feelings as just silly hormones and dramatics, but there are those of us who know that what starts out young can grow into something strong and lasting.

As for The Host. Wow, I love it. I remember when I read it the first time thinking it was way better than the Twilight books. If you like alien stories and conspiracy theories and people who rebel for freedom, you will love this book. So good.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

The third book following The Hunger Games and Catching Fire will be released in August (the 11th, I believe). I can’t wait to get it. These are supposed to be young adult books, but all the adults I know who have read them LOVE them. I heard the first book is going to be made into a movie, and I can’t wait. I love action movies, and this one will definitely be action packed. It’s about a teenage girl, Kat, who lives in the poorest district in her country. Each district has to send a boy and a girl to The Capital to be in the hunger games, where they fight to the death. Only one can survive, and that one will win a bounty of food for their district as well as life-long personal wealth. Kat must find a way to survive, but the idea of killing others, especially her friend from her own district, is appalling. This story is really a mix of politics (the Capital is pretty awful and uses the hunger games to keep the districts from uniting against it), friendship, and action. Lots of action. I can’t wait for the third one to come out.

So those are my must-read books. What books do you read over and over again?

~Meghan

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Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support. She is still alive, but we aren’t sure that she’s really aware of anything going on right now. They found out that my Nana had had 3 seizures the day that her heart had stopped beating and her lung collapsed during surgery; one was a grand mal. They will get the results of her EEG back today, and hopefully that will tell us more. Please keep praying, and thank you.

Missed Reading in May

I read a few books in the last month, but not up to my normal amount. I missed it. In fact…I can’t remember all that I read. I think I might have them all, but I feel like I’m missing something. The problem is that I get most of the books I read from the library. But then I return them and can’t remember when I read what a month later. So here’s the best I can remember.

1. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I wanted to read this book because I heard it was great. I bought this one (wow, I actually spent money on a book again!) when Tom was in NYC for a week at the beginning of May. I needed distractions from how sad I got missing Tom. This was the wrong choice because it made me cry. It was a typical Sparks book. Two people fall in love, someone in the story dies, it makes you cry some, the end. I liked it, but I knew what to expect.

2. Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot.

I actually read this book in late April after my “April Reads” post. It’s written for an audience of high schoolers and is about a high school girl. Pretty much fluff content. But it was still fun to read. I like Meg Cabot books because she almost always makes me laugh. So I’m okay reading her young adult content.

3. Ready or Not by Meg Cabot.

This is another high school audience book about a high school girl. It is actually the sequel to another book that I haven’t read. Oh well. It wasn’t that important. It was an easy read. I liked Pants on Fire more.

4. Breathless by Dean Koontz.

I was warned that this author does scary stories. Mainly, I was warned about it because I get all paranoid and freaked out after scary stories, which is why I don’t watch scary movies anymore. But I didn’t think it was scary. Even the subplot about the whackjob who kills his brother and sister-in-law and then thinks he is his brother has humor in it, in some awkward ways. Basically, I thought this book was..okay. Not fabulous. But not bad. I got another Koontz book to see what I think of this author after another reading.

5. Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews.

This book made me smile. It made Tom say, “sounds like a Lifetime movie waiting to happen” when I summarized it. I think I liked it just because it’s a southern book set in Georgia, because the story was so obvious that you knew what would happen just from reading the back cover. It was more about the journey than the destination. It’s fun for me to read southern books. Having grown up in Small Town, USA, I really have heard (and used) a good many of the trite expressions and situations associated with the South. I don’t know why I love seeing all the southern stuff in print.

I guess it’s the same reason I love watching Sweet Home Alabama. It’s just fun to see what you’re used to (but  what people from elsewhere wouldn’t believe is how it really is) outside of real life. I mean, I have literally chased cows out of my neighbor’s garden. I say “y’all,” and my voice can be heavily accented at times. I pronounce pecan pie as “pee-can” (as in a can of sauce) “pah.” I call my mom “mama.” I love my cowboy boots, riding horses, and wish we owned a truck (so convenient for moving large stuff!) I think I would do bodily harm to anyone that would hurt one of my dogs. I love my mama, Jesus, and America too.. Getting the picture? More southern belle than redneck, thank the Lord. But still, it’s fun to see the expression on people from other area’s faces when I tell them the chasing the cow story.

And also, a lot of the books in the “southern fiction” section will have recipes in the back that the author used in the book. That’s when you know you’ve got a truly southern author doing a piece of “southern fiction.” Did y’all even know there was such a thing as southern fiction? My library has a whole section devoted to it.

6. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen.

I saved the best for last. I love Sarah Dessen. I love her talent of pulling a reader into a story. Of course, I’ve only read two books of hers so far, the other being one I read last month. But they both were awesome. These stories aren’t about perfect people. They’re about real people. They open your eyes to how normal people could become involved in desperate situations. They’re realistic. I love them. I want to read more of them. Amen.

So that’s it for May. I’m three days into June and have five books open. How did that happen? I’m a “one at a time” kind of reader. I guess I got too excited about all the different books I wanted to read and jumped into all of them at once. I can’t wait to share some of these June books with y’all. I will in a month.

Any suggestions for books I should read if I manage to finish the five I’m on before July?

~Meghan

April Reads

Here are the books that I read this month:

Rilla of Ingleside was a great book. I love historical fiction, and this story is set from right before World War One all the way through to its end. The main character, Rilla, is Anne and Gilbert’s youngest child. When I told my mom that I was going to read it, she said that it was her favorite of the books about Anne of Green Gables and her family, and she said that Rilla had always made her think of me. I was only about one chapter in at this point, and I didn’t particularly love how Rilla (who is only about to turn 15 at the beginning of the book) was so unconcerned with anything but having fun despite the approaching war. So, I obviously didn’t love hearing that at first. As I read the book though, I realized my mom wasn’t trying to insult me. I was actually kind of flattered. Rilla matures throughout the book. She takes care of a baby whose father is at war and whose mother has passed away. She raises him for three and a half years until his father returns. She starts a junior red cross group to get girls her age involved in supporting the soldiers. She writes to her brothers and friends who are fighting for four years. She is a source of comfort to her parents. She faithfully turns down all suitors while waiting on the person she has loved since childhood to return from fighting. She is a heroine. And when I got done reading the book, I wanted to hug my mama for telling me that Rilla and I had similar personalities.

I don’t know if you’ve read Nicholas Sparks books, but if not, I can tell you this: he has a habit of killing people. Usually someone you really like in the story gets killed in the end. His books are generally good for a cry. But this one was refreshingly different. I think he knew that his readers expected one of the main characters to die, because he wrote the last chapter in a way that lets you think one of them did until the last page or two. Then you realize that he (*gasp*) actually let that person live. Someone does die though. You’ll have to read it to find out who it was.

This book was a quick, fun read. It’s set in 1989 in Australia. The main character tells the story, and I found myself laughing out loud a few times, especially when she brings up Huey Lewis and The News and the song Power of Love. So funny. But the story is basically about this girl who is about 17. Her parents drop a bomb on her that Nick McGowen, a cute guy at her high school who has gone through some hard stuff and is acting out, is going to be moving in. She’s horrified, but has to deal with it. It’s all about that year and how they go from basically being strangers to being friends.

This is the second of three books about this group of friends in their fifties. It’s set in Georgia, and it’s hilarious. I have actually read the third book, and now the second, but not the first. I don’t usually do things backwards, but that’s what happened this time. Regardless, these books are funny, and if you’re from the South, you’ll like them that much more.

This was another quick read. It was okay, but not my favorite. It’s so obvious that the main characters will end up together and that the bad guy is her ex-husband and some other guy that he’s friends with…it’s really something you read more to see how they get to the end than you read because you can’t wait to see what happens.

This book was great. I really couldn’t put it down, and I think I read it in under 24 hours. I can’t wait to check out more books by Sarah Dessen, the author. The main character, Annabel, has a normal family with problems that really happen affecting them. The story isn’t depressing, but it’s very real in that life isn’t perfect nor such a tragedy. It has it’s highs and some major lows. And this book captures that really well. The characters are interesting, and the situations are believable. I don’t want to say more because it would give too much of the story out. Go read this one.

That’s it for me. Only 6 books this month.  What are you reading?

~Meghan

Green Gables and other March Books

This month, I focused my reading on a set of books that I had never read. I loved watching the Anne of Green Gables movies when I was growing up. I tried to read the books when I was about 12, and I couldn’t get into them. My sister and mom always loved them, and they were always suggesting I try reading them again when we talked about reading or the ol’ “Anne-girl.”

So, I picked them up this month at the library. Wow. They are so good. I have really enjoyed reading them, and I highly recommend them.  So far, I’ve read:

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Avonlea

Anne of the Island

Anne of Windy Poplars

Anne’s House of Dreams

Anne of Ingleside

Rainbow Valley
I’ve requested Rilla of Ingleside, Chronicles of Avonlea, and Further Chronicles of Avonlea, as well as all the Emily trilogy books by Lucy M. Montgomery (who wrote all the Anne books) from the library. I’m eager to read them, but they aren’t the only things I’ve got checked out.

Tom and I are planning to landscape our yard (the best we can, by ourselves) so I’ve been checking out some handy-dandy little gardening books from the library and dreaming of how our yard could look in a year or two (or three) after we’ve put the time and money into our yard that it will require to match the plans I drew out into a notebook I keep for ideas, thoughts, and plans. It’s a very professional drawing. I used markers. (Since you can’t hear me saying this, I’ll just add that that was self-deprecating humor, folks.)

I also am reading Unveiled by Francine Rivers. This book focuses on Tamar of the Old Testament. I’ve also read her books on Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. She has one on Rahab that I would like to read as well. Francine Rivers is a great author.

That’s all I’ve got for March.

Happy Reading!
~Meghan

Book Wormin’ it in February

Alrighty, I forgot to post my February books. I didn’t read as many, only five. Here they are:

1. Size Twelve Is Not Fat  by Meg Cabot. It’s  a fictional murder mystery, but it’s not that hard to figure out. The main character is Heather Wells, a twenty-seven year old ex-pop singer (during her teens) who has put on a few pounds since leaving the biz, is fine with her new size, and hates being recognized for her pop-star days. She’s taken a job as an assistant manager of a dorm in New York because she can attend college for free as an employee. And then girls start dying in the dorm. She tries to figure it out. Of course, she does, in the end, but only after almost being killed herself. It’s a predictable read, but it’s fun and light. A good beach book.

2. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. Tennessee Williams is a pretty cool name, no? Anyway, he penned this play, and I thought, as I often do with plays, that I would have enjoyed watching it more than reading it. It wasn’t bad though. Kind of sad actually. Read or watch it for yourself.

~Tennessee Williams wrote a great, short essay called “A Streetcar Named Success” that was put in the paper before A Streetcar Named Desire came out. It’s included in the book I got from the library, and it was a great read.

3. How Not To Make A Wish by Mindy Klasky. This story is about a girl who finds her life going no where she hoped…right before she finds a genie’s bottle. Through her wishes, she learns about where to place value, making her own way, taking charge of her health and her occupational choices, and to quit living in the past. Another light, easy read.

4. Alex Cross’s Trial by James Patterson. This is a fictional account of a white lawyer in the early 1900’s who is sent from his current home in DC to his home state of Mississippi to find out if the KKK is alive and well. He finds that it is, indeed, still in practice. He sets out to see it stamped out, but ends up finding himself with almost no help and even facing death threats. He finds himself at odds with almost all the white people in town, especially from his father, the town judge. He is almost killed in his attempt to help the local black population, and they are some of the only people who will take him in. It’s a good read and a pretty horrific view of how things used to be.

5. Jane Austen in Scarsdale (Or Love, Death and the SATS) by Paula Marantz Cohen. This is a fictional story about Anne, a high school guidance counselor. Years before, at her wealthy family’s urging, she had broken up with the love of her life. She’s always regretted it. Now, years later, her father has foolishly squandered the family fortune, and her now-rich ex moves back to town, his nephew attending the high school where she is employed. She doesn’t know how to let him know that she is sorry and still in love with him without making it look like she just wants him now that he is wealthy. As she tries to help the seniors prepare for college applications, she juggles her emotions and her busy life.  It’s a cute story. Usually light fictional stories don’t make me think much because they’re just fun little books. But this one was a bit more grounded, and it really made me think a lot about how parents go about trying to get their kids into the colleges that they deem good enough.

So those were my February reads. I have the Anne of Green Gables books and the other two Heather Wells books on hold at the library, so I am going to try to read some of those this month. I grew up watching the Anne of GG movies, but I never actually read the books. I tried to read the first one, once when I was about 12, and I got so bored I put it down. Time to pick them back up!
~Meghan

Reading Rainbow

Do you remember Reading Rainbow with LeVar Burton? It was one of my favorite shows to watch when I was a kid. I also loved Wishbone, which less people seem to remember (though I can still remember the song…”What’s the story, Wishbone?”). It’s about a Jack Russell (named Wishbone) who would see something going on with his owner, a boy of about 13 or 14 years of age named Joe, and Joe’s friends, David and Sam, and it would remind Wishbone of a story in a famous piece of literature. Then we would see the story from literature Wishbone is remembering, with Wishbone as the main character (so cute, this little dog in all these little outfits), and you would learn the gist of all kinds of stories. Of course, the “real-life” characters would have some parallel to the literature, and it all worked out in the end. Through Wishbone, I learned to appreciate Shakespeare, Homer, and many more story-tellers that you typically groan about in high school. Thanks to that show, I was interested in what would happen in the stories when I got old enough to have them assigned to me, rather than wishing I didn’t have to read them.

I love shows that promote reading because they make reading something that’s okay to do and fun to do instead of nerdy. My sister and I are total bookworms, and I am also part of a book-club. I could happily spend the majority of my day reading, every day of the week, as long as I have good books. This month, I’ve gotten my hands on some good material, and I’ve been in bookworm heaven. Out of the 10 books I’ve read so far this month, here are my favorites:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are, hands down, my favorite books I’ve read this year. One of the girls I worked with told me they were really good. So I finally gave in and bought The Hunger Games and borrowed its sequel,Catching Fire, from a friend. WOW. They are great. The books follow 16-year-old Katniss, as she tries to survive the hunger games, something inflicted by The Capitol on each district of her country, Panem, which is built on top of what was once North America. These books cover a lot of ground: government control, survival, murder, loyalty, cunning, secrets, escape, fighting, revolution, and love. The third book in this trilogy is due out on August 14, 2010, and I can’t wait to get it. This is one story I would LOVE to see turned into a movie. It would be an action/thriller for sure, and no worries, guys, it’s NOTHING like Twilight, and romance is not the driving factor.

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

The Total Money Makeover wasn’t as fun for me to read as the fiction I enjoy, but I want to recommend it because he has stuff worth reading in that book. Dave Ramsey is acclaimed for his financial finesse, and Tom and I had heard a lot of good things about him. We finally decided to read this book, and it’s worth reading. If you are in debt, read this book. If you are not in debt, read this book. Tom and I have always tried to be smart about our money, but this book gives you a plan for how to make your money work for you. It covers a lot:  how to get out of debt, if that’s where you are, and how to not only stay out of debt but also how to grow your wealth to pay for your kids’ college tuition, to ensure you have a nice and comfortable lifestyle later in life as well as give to those in need, and to teach you how to teach your kids to be wise with money. It’s a good read.

The other authors I’ve enjoyed reading this month are:

Sophie Kinsella (I’ve been reading her books for years. She can crack me up with her characters.)

Meg Cabot (I’ve also been reading her books for years. She is hilarious most of the time. Her characters (for her adult fiction) are usually women in their 20’s and 30’s, and they go through the every day mishaps that make you laugh, though in the end they seem to overcome some huge obstacle. My least favorite book by her is She Went All The Way, which I read this month. I’m about to read her Heather Wells Trilogy, and the titles alone make me laugh. They are: Size 12 Is Not Fat, Size 14 Is Not Fat Either, and Big-Boned.)

Mindy Klasky (She writes about regular girls in their 20’s and 30’s who accidentally stumble across magic.)

Maureen Lipinski (I read her book, A Bump In The Road. It’s a work of fiction about a 27-year-old woman (Clare) and her husband finding out they are pregnant when they had planned to wait about six more years to have kids. It’s pretty funny following along as Clare tells how her life changes over the course of nine months.)

Madeleine L’Engle (I read her book A Ring of Endless Light in high school, but I just got around to reading A Wrinkle In Time. I thought it ended kind of abruptly, but then, I haven’t read her other works to see how they follow up with the characters.)

Francine Rivers (She is one of my favorite Christian authors. I have about 5 of her books waiting for me at the library, and I intend to pick them up this week. Definitely check out her work. I’m going to read The Atonement Child and her Lineage of Grace series next.)

So, that’s my January reading list. Any books you would suggest I read?

~Meghan

Book-Wormin’ It

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a total fool for reading. I LOVE it. I could be happy staying home every day and reading for the entire time that I’m supposed to be at work. One of the reasons I’m excited to move is that the library is supposed to be much better in Suwanee than the one that is near us. Well, that wouldn’t be hard to beat, but still.

I finished my second book in the last few days tonight, and it occurred to me how much I had missed it when I first started to work out here. I didn’t have any time to plow through a book, as Tom describes it. =) Only recently have I been able to pick it up again, and I’m so glad I did. Something about me is that I don’t do well reading a book that I haven’t really been wanting to read. It takes me forever to read a book if I’m only mildly interested or if someone says, “You REALLY ought to read this book; you’d love it.” I’m still working on a couple of books (that aren’t even very long) that two different people let me borrow months ago. I need to finish them because they should be returned to their owners. I can’t stand not finishing a book, so I’ve been holding onto them all this time trying to get myself back into reading them. No luck yet, but I think I’m going to have to just get over it and read them.

Last month, a group of girlfriends from college and I had our first book club meeting. We have a less than conventional club, however. It’s less of reading the same book and more of swapping books or titles that we recommend, discussing what we’re currently reading, and talking about what we’ve read in the past and how we felt about it. A lot of the discussions lead us off on tangents, but that’s fine because we are already friends and are genuinely interested in hearing each others thoughts, personal news, and stories. We also all bring something to eat or drink and socialize a bit. It’s so much fun to all be nerds together, haha. As I look at the picture below, I’m reminded of how short Jenn and I are. =)

Megan, Meghan, Jessica, Jennifer, and Mollie at the first book club meeting.
Megan, Meghan, Jessica, Jennifer, and Mollie at the first book club meeting.

Love,

Meghan

ps- Tom and I now have a picture of the front and back of our house. We can’t wait to move out of this apartment that the four of us have outgrown! =)

The front and back of the outside of our house.
The front and back of the outside of our house.