World’s Shortest Book Reports

To say I read a lot is a wee bit of an understatement. When I was in grade one and two, I read the whole Little House on the Prairie series. While most kids were learning sight words, I was reading novels. I’ve always had my nose stuck in a book. At the dinner table. In the car. In bed under the sheets with a flashlight long after my bedtime. When we drove as a family, my parents were quick to point out firetrucks or landmarks, but I would always miss them because I was so engrossed in my book. I once missed an entire family of bears walk in front of our car. An entire family. OF BEARS. In elementary school I was upset to discover that the public library only let me check out 99 books at one time. I’d take them to the cottage and easily power through all of them in less than 6 weeks. I told you. I like to read. A lot.

Here is this summer’s list, in no particular order, with the world’s shortest book reports:

1. Room – Emma Donoghue – Written from the point of view of a five year old who knows nothing exists other than the room in which he and his mother are held captive. Absolutely terrifyingly horrific yet oddly beautiful. I couldn’t put it down. Chilling, but so good. So so good.

2. Bossypants – Tina Fey – Sweet mercy, this woman is funny. I could sit and read in a room alone and be in hysterics. A little raunchy, but definitely the funniest read of the summer.

3. City of Ember – Jeanne DuPrau – The first of four in a junior fiction series. I started reading this with a grade 6 class this year and found myself hoping to get called back to the class so I could read this book during my breaks. Post-apocalyptic, and bizarre, it leaves you trying to figure out if it’s set in the past or the future. The storytelling reveals little by little and lets the reader piece together the puzzle. Great read.

4. The People of Sparks – Jeanne DuPrau – The second in the series. It was well written, but it seemed to drag in comparison to the first.

5. The Prophet of Yonwood – Jeanne DuPrau – The third in the series. Written as a prequel to the first two, it was interesting, but failed to connect to the first two until the epilogue. I was confused as to how they were related and kept trying to figure it out instead of enjoying the read.

6. The Diamond of Darkhold – Jeanne DuPrau – The last book. Absolutely fantastic, right up there with the first book. Tied in a lot of loose ends and was as exciting as the first.

7. The Secret Daughter – Shilpi Somaya Gowda – Fantastically written from several points of view. About a woman in India who gives up her daughter to an orphanage so her husband does not kill the baby. The daughter is then adopted by an American doctor and her Indian doctor husband. The stories are drastically different, but Gowda manages to intertwine them beautifully.

8. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards – Beautifully written. Oddly similar to #7, and I read them back to back while I was up north. A doctor’s wife gives birth to twins in the ’60s. One of the twins has Downs Syndrome. To protect his wife, he tells her that the sick twin died. Instead the twin is raised by the nurse who helped deliver her. A really frustrating, passionate story about lies, grief and their effect on a family that is split apart. I liked it other than one part/character which seemed random and unnecessary.

9. Captivating: – John & Stasi Elderidge – I’ve read this before and I thought I’d give it another shot. This is the women’s equivalent to Wild at Heart. The general idea is that women have three core desires: “to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty” (thanks Wikipedia). Sometimes I deeply resonated with what the Elderidges had to say, other times I wanted to throw the book and say, “YES LIFE IS HARD. Quit crying and deal with it, woman!”

10. Stuff Christians Like – Jon Acuff – if you grew up in a Christian home, or attend church, or just like witty writing, you must read this book. You will laugh to yourself, then run to find someone to share it with. The man’s a genius with words and runs a very close second to Tina in the funny department.

11. Silver Girl – Elin Hilderbrand – I expected this to be fluffy and girly. I was not entirely wrong. It’s about a woman whose husband is arrested for stealing millions in investments and then leaving his clients broke. She is unaware of his schemes and has to go in to hiding to fend off the people and press who don’t believe her. That doesn’t sound girly. But she went into hiding in Nantucket. On the beach. With her friend who meets a handsome power-washer.

12. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen – I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I didn’t picture Edward the whole time, therefore it was a very enjoyable read. It’s about the circus, and it’s fascinating.

13. Coraline – Neil Gaiman – Hokey poops, children’s books are not supposed to be this scary. I had to stay up at night to finish this because I wouldn’t have been able to sleep had I not. Button eyes. So creepy. See the movie. Read the book. Both are compelling.

14. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien – Clearly this man is a genius. I read it because it was someone else’s favourite, but ended up loving it myself. Probably because I had a soundtrack running through my head the whole time. If someone gives me a ‘I heart hobbits’ t-shirt I will wear it.

15. Jesus and the Bachelorette Knox McCoy – I KNOW, RIGHT? Knox McCoy wrote a book. About Jesus. And the Bachelorette? Yes. It’s as weird and quirky and undeniably Knox as it sounds, but if you love love, you will love it, or you don’t truly love love. Insider scoop: THE Knox McCoy will be guest posting RIGHT HERE! for your reading pleasure in September. I KNOW, RIGHT? Go buy his book. You won’t be disappointed.

In progress (because summer isn’t quite over):

16. The Confession – John Grisham

17. Doctrine – Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

Your turn. What was the best book you read this summer? Do you have any recommendations for me?


22 thoughts on “World’s Shortest Book Reports

  1. I am so happy someone else had the same reaction to Captivating. Like, exactly the same. I read it before and just wasn’t feeling it—and I tried again a few years later, with the same reaction. I think I just resonate more with the idea of “Discovering a Life of Passion, Freedom, and Adventure” instead of “Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul.” Too bad the first one is from Wild at Heart, written for dudes. Welcome to my life :)

    • there were a few things about it that I really liked, but then they kept using imagery about being pregnant to describe events that didn’t have to do with pregnancy and it got to be a little much.

  2. I gave my high school students a present before they left for summer: one page, single-spaced, front and back of all my book recommendations. I told them to laminate it and share it with their friends because book recommendations are the best. Thanks for yours.

    My friend and I were just talking about how she and I spent countless hours in the church library when we were growing up. We read every Janette Oke and Francine Rivers book that was available. We also both used to read under the covers. Our parents must have feared we were going to grow up into terribly dorky girls.

    They were kinda right.

    One of my favorites of the summer thus far has been Ken Follet’s new book “Fall of the Giants”. It’s the first of a series of three, historical fiction and this one follows the lives of a Russian, Brit, German, and American during World War I. If you love that war as much as I strangely do, and you love to read, you’ll love this book. It’s massive but epic.

    My other favorite is the one I’m reading now called Cutting For Stone. It’s about twins born to an Indian nun in Ethiopia in the 50’s. I’ve read it on the train and in plaza squares while eating lunch and am always crying in front of strangers because A- I’m a crier and B- it is tragic and beautifully written. It’s one of those books that isn’t hard to read but is so insightful and thought-provoking that I feel like I’m getting smarter while I read it. But then I go and say things like “I’m getting smarter” and I don’t think smart people say things like that.

    • did you ever read any of the Mandie series? She’s like the Christian Nancy Drew and the reason I spell my name the way I do. Lame. Suuuper lame on my part. But I loved those books.

      I’m writing down your suggestions! I like getting smarter, too.

  3. I am reading Quitter right now by Jon Accuff. It’s good so far. I read a good amount but I don’t read much fiction. Come to think about it I don’t think I’ve read a fiction book since Left Behind. Oh me.

  4. The Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. I read the third one this summer, because it just came out. I read the other two when they came out too. The first (Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) is the best, then the third (A Red Herring Without Mustard), with the second (The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag) being my least favorite of the three.

  5. Have you yet seen the Dragonkeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul, Mandie? If not, add them to your reading list. There’s a series of them, and then a separate pair set in the same world but different location and characters and timeframe.

    When I was in my teens, because we neighbored a major city across the county line, they had a policy allowing neighboring county residents to get a card to their libraries too for a fee. So we had cards at two library systems, and used to alternate visits so the expiration dates were staggered. They had the 99 book thing going too, so mom and I would each check out our books and then put any overflow on dad’s card since he’s not so much of a reader. ;)

    My current readings are:

    “Infantry Attacks” by Erwin Rommel – Written between the world wars, based on his experiences as an infantry officer in World War 1 (not 2). It was written specifically with intent to be a training aid for officers and includes many sketches done by Rommel, who apparently kept a detailed combat diary all through that war. Currently, he’s involved in the Austro-Hungarian-German invasion of Romania and the Communist Revolution has just recently started in Russia.

    “Third Army Combat Diary” – It’s a compilation of the actual combat diary of Pattons’ Third Army in the France and Germany campaigns post-Normandy. It’s a high-level view, covering mostly how far different divisions advanced and what their fuel problems were and what enemies they estimated they faced, but it makes for interesting reading to me.

  6. I’m reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter right now!!! It’s amazing. Are you referring to Rosemary? Because I found her and that whole part to be very random and out of place.

    Coraline was one of the most terrifying movies I’ve seen in a long time, let alone a CHILDREN’S movie.

    Have you read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? I highly recommend it…it’s worth all the hype. Don’t bother with the second two books though; the second is very confusing (too many characters with similar but slightly different Swedish names) and the third is downright boring.

    • If Rosemary is the pregnant chick, then yes. Where the poo did she come from? I’m finished and still fail to see what she had to do with the storyline.

      I haven’t read those yet, but I want to. I miss our boring evenings at Bingo, where we would talk about such things.

  7. Sarah’s Key by tatiana de Rosnay is a fantastic book that follows two lives, one of a Jewish girl during WWII and another of a women in the present learning her story. I loved it.
    Left Neglected by Lisa Genova is about a women who goes through a really bad car accident and ends up with something called left neglect where she doesn’t recognize anything on the left side of her… fascinating!

    Such a great list, totally want to read the Secret Daughter

    • Hoped you would leave a comment, Miss Works At A Bookstore! We own the Secret Daughter. I’ll bring it to seestor’s place for you the next time I go.

      Both of those books sound great. Do you own them or just read them on your lunch breaks?

  8. I’m honored to be on the list, though I feel like it would ruin Tina Fey’s day to know that she and I shared space here.

    I heard there was a book coming out soon called something like Princess Pizzapants by a new up and comer. It’s probably something to monitor.

  9. I don’t read nearly as much as I should — stupid internet — but maybe my all-time favorite book is My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. This is my favorite quote from it:

    “A life should be lived for the sake of heaven. One man is not better than another because he is a doctor while the other is a shoemaker. One man is not better than another because he is a lawyer while the other is a painter. A life is measured by how it is lived for the sake of heaven.”

  10. This is a great list because I’ve read 8 of them and think you’re book reports nailed it. I’m not afraid of a book with a handsome power washer, so…

    I just recently finished Laura Lippman’s I’d Know You Anywhere and it wrecked me – creepy and poetic all in one. P.S. Room is on my Top 20 list.

  11. I read City of Ember… great book, made you think… but I was afraid that the next few books wouldn’t be the same… so I actually haven’t read them yet. Although if 4 was fantastic, I guess I can make myself read 2 and 3 just to get to 4. :)

    Also, to add onto Katie and your comment about Jeanette Oak, Francine Rivers, and Mandie books.. did you read the Christy Miller series?? I was obsessed with those books… probably read the series at least 5 times…

    The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson are pretty fantastic too! I read them years ago, but I’m re-reading them right now… sooo good!!! :)

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