Booking It – February Update

Reading books, real books, is a wonderful way to explore your world and connect with other people. Booking It is an online book club to help you do that. Let’s talk about what we read in February!

For Booking It in 2013, I’ve invited my friends Carrie and Anne to co-host with me. I think it will be fun to get different perspectives on books as well as present some reading choices from others besides myself. We’re going to try to keep it interactive and hope that you will chime in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Please note: This post does include Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I am paid a small amount in way of advertising fees.

Be sure to leave your link below or tell us about your recent reading in the comments section.

What Anne read

sense and sensSense and Sensibility

by Jane Austen

I hadn’t read this Jane Austen book in over a decade, and I enjoyed visiting it again after so long. The death of a rich old man throws the plot into motion, as his wife and 3 daughters plunge in an instant from a comfy financial state to a precarious one.

If you’ve never read Sense and Sensibility, you may still be familiar with the basic plot: the eldest sister Elinor is rational and level-headed in all things (including love), while the middle sister Marianne is passionate and impulsive in all things (especially love). Of course, both sisters fall in love, and their parallel romances play out quite differently through the course of the book.

Don’t be fooled into thinking classics are boring: Austen draws rich characters, fills her plot with surprises, and makes fun of some ridiculous man or woman–with her sharp British wit–on practically every page.

Verdict: if you’ve never read Sense and Sensibility, now’s the time. 

What Jessica says: I am a huge Austen fan, having first whipped through all the novels in quick succession about fifteen years ago. Somehow my high school and college experience omitted Dear Jane. Gasp.

The ever-present entailment (the fact that daughters could not inherit their fathers’ estates) in her books always baffled me. Obviously, it was quite the big deal, especially since at least two Austen novels focus on that social practice. Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorites, though I cringe at Marianne’s impetuosity.

What Carrie says: You KNOW I’m an Austen fan (thus the name of my blog – Carrie’s Busy Nothings), and though I love Sense and Sensibility, it’s not my favorite – that honor goes to Mansfield Park.Although I’m usually unimpressed by books-turned-film, I adored the 1995, Emma Thompson adaptation. My favorite scene comes at the end, when Edward finally shares his true feelings for Elinor (played by Thompson), who begins to sob uncontrollably. It never fails to make me laugh. Read the book, then watch the film – what better way to spend a weekend?

how to look

How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor’s Secrets to Getting Gorgeous Without Breaking the Bank

by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig

The author wrote a beauty advice column for Glamour for 10 years, and she spills her secrets on how to look “expensive” in this little guide. In How to Look Expensive Lustig clearly defines what she means by “expensive,” and it can be summed up in two words: effortless beauty. This means shiny hair, subtle makeup, well-fitting clothes. The opposite of expensive, to Lustig, is looking over the top and overdone.

(I’d like to look “expensive,” thankyouverymuch.)

But as Lustig points out, “effortless beauty” is never effortless–at least not when it comes to the celebrities that have become our style icons. Lustig dedicates this book to dissecting just what goes into this “effortless” appearance, pointing out that celebrities spend small fortunes on “natural” hair, custom-tailored clothing, and fresh-looking skin. This book is devoted to practical tips–including tips, tutorials, and specific product recommendations–on getting the look for less.

Verdict: many of these tips are exactly the kind of thing you’d find in Glamour or InStyle, but it’s worthwhile having them gathered in one place. Almost any woman will find something useful in here. It’s worth reading once, especially if you can get a copy from the library like I did. 

What Jessica says: It sounds really interesting. I always wondered how those celebrities got their long hair to look so good. When I had long hair, it never looked like that.

What Jessica Read

I was hoping that I would be able to finish two other books: Real Love for Real Life by Andi Ashworth (slow at first, but getting good) and The Mysterious Benedict Society, a book I’m reading with the kids and we love it. Watch for those next month!

Here’s what I did get done:

A Homemade Life

by Molly Wizenberg

Anne was the one who brought this book to my attention. I think her review said that the author had her laughing and crying, sometimes on the same page. As Wizenberg shares her memories of food and family as well as her father’s sudden death, I shake an emphatic tear-filled yes. She had me laughing and crying, sometimes on the same page.

This is a nonfiction memoir interspersed with recipes. The recipes mean something even to us, the unknown readers, because the author tells the tale of the recipe and the family experiences linked to it. I found myself endeared to the recipe not always because it sounded good to make but because it had life and love mixed in with it. A Homemade Life was a great glimpse into a life different than my own, but linked by the commonalities of 80′s/90′s fashion and Food, The Great Equalizer.

What Anne says: Of course, I love this book. However, Wizenberg’s marvelous stories–and recipes!–about luscious croissants and chocolate cakes had me cursing my gluten-free diet. I’m chuckling at its ironic placement here–right next to It Starts With Food.
What Jessica says: Ha! I didn’t even notice that, but yes. I am a nut. I may celebrate day 31 by trying one of those chocolate cakes. ;)
What Carrie says: Confession – I don’t like books that make me cry.

It Starts With Food

by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

Speaking of food, the other book I devoured this month was It Starts with Food, the culmination of a diet program called The Whole 30. The diet regiment described is a nutritional reset, a way to give your body a break from foods that might be bothering it. Since I’ve been coping with chronic pain since May, I decided to give food a chance.

While much of the diet’s explanation is available on the Whole 30 website, the book goes into greater detail about the science behind it. Since a gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, and alcohol-free diet for 30 days is a vast undertaking, I certainly didn’t want to “do it wrong”. So far, I’m sleeping better, I have more energy in the day, and I am eating quite well. You can read more about that over here.

What Anne says: I found this book enormously helpful for my own recent Whole 30, and a pretty interesting read, too.
What Carrie says: We were really good about eating healthy when we ate strictly South Beach, and we felt better than we ever had (and lost weight too). Then Jessica introduced me to Kathleen Flinn…and after I read The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry, I moved on to The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, and I had my Julia Child moment. I fell in love with food. I’ll be honest – I’d have a hard time giving up gluten, dairy, and sugar…

What Carrie read

Kisses from Katie

by Katie J. Davis and Beth Clarkkisses from katie

From the perspective of someone who used to live overseas, worked in missions, and came home discouraged – this book, and Katie’s story, was a breath of fresh air. It took me two days to read it, and almost two weeks later, I’m still trying to process my thoughts.

In all honesty they are almost too personal to share, so let me just say this: Katie Davis is an amazing young woman who has a tremendous passion for following God and loving people. For me, the highlight of Katie’s story was her emphasis on the fact that God has not asked everyone to give up everything, move to Uganda, and adopt 14 little girls; but He has asked us to recognize that our life belongs to him, and it is to our benefit to follow Him, wherever that may lead.

Read Kisses from Katienot to feel guilt over what you aren’t doing, but to gain encouragement to do what you can.

What Jessica says: I, too, loved that book. (My review from last year is here.) I sobbed and sobbed near the end, so I recommend a box of tissue as an accompaniment to the book. I had a similar take-away. We’re not all destined to do what Katie does, but we are called to love God’s people.

It’s helped me change a sometimes judgmental attitude toward others to ask: What would love toward this person look like right now?”

What Anne says: I didn’t love Kisses from Katie. I thought the power of the story itself was diminished by lackluster storytelling.

Call The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Timescall the midwife

by Jennifer Worth

Although I had low expectations of Call The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times, assuming the TV show would have completely changed the story lines of the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the show producers faithfulness to the original tales. As for the book itself, I really enjoyed Worth’s well-balanced writing style and simple telling of the stories as they happened, leaving out any spin towards one point of religious or political view. Her honest comments about “advances” in medicine not always resulting in better methods and practices (for example, the overuse of antibiotics), rang true for me, the daughter of a physician.

Sadly, one section of the book prevents me from enthusiastically recommending Call The Midwife. The chapters that dealt with young Mary, the Irish prostitute, were difficult, though realistic. However, the “Cable Street” chapter was nothing less than pornographic. While I appreciate Worth’s attempt to honestly portray the horrors that young girls like Mary went through, she went over the edge in the graphic detail of Mary’s first night in the brothel. Consider yourself warned.

Were it not for the section on Mary, specifically that one chapter, I would highly recommend it.

The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Dosecret of teams

by Mark Miller

I actually read this book for work, and while I appreciated the ideas found in the story, I am not a fan of leadership books told in the style of a fable.  If I wanted to read fiction, I’d pick up an Agatha Christie mystery. However, if I’ve selected a book to improve my leadership skills (or learn about how to build a team), I would prefer that it be written as a “Do this, and that, and your results will be XYZ.” That being said, my only negative critique of The Secret of Teams is the style in which the book is written. The core advice of how to grow, build, and develop a successful team is actually quite useful.

Best takeaway: Treat people like people, and you will be well on your way to leading a winning team.

What Jessica says: It sounds a lot like The One-Minute Manager that I read a few years ago. Since that author, Ken Blanchard, wrote in a fable/story style, it makes sense that he endorsed this book. Ha! I found that style did make it a quick read, but yes, the cheese factor was strong there. Apparently, that style must be effective or they wouldn’t keep using it?
What Anne says: I don’t enjoy this style, either. I’m hoping I can get the Cliff Notes version from you, Carrie!

What did YOU read this month?

– Anne loves strong coffee, long books, and big ideas. She puts a timely spin on timeless women’s issues at her blog Modern Mrs Darcy. Head here to get her free guide Paper Gains: A Guide to Gifting Children Great Books from Modern Mrs Darcy.

– Carrie has been married to her best friend, Peter, for twelve years. After working in missionary aviation throughout Africa, southeast Asia, and Alaska, they now reside in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Carrie works from home as a social media specialist and editor, and in her spare time, she blogs about finances and thankfulness at Carrie’s Busy Nothings, and writes book reviews for What’s On My Nightstand

– Jessica is a married mom of six kids, aged 4 to 15. Most can read independently which means the homeschool experiment is working – at least on the literacy front. She has been a lover of books for 39 years and counting. We won’t count the first year of life. She runs this here show called Life as MOM.

Tell us what YOU’VE been reading.

Leave a comment or a link below. Please be sure to link back here so your readers know where to find the party.



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Comments

  1. So many of the book choices this month look great! I’ll have to add them to my list.

    I read One Cause, Many Ailments: Leaky Gut Syndrome, The Good Life for Less, and The Time Keeper.

  2. Several of these books are on my to-read list! Thanks for sharing some great reviews!

  3. Hello.
    As a young child I have never been heavy into reading anything. As I got older, got married and had children self help books have been a great help in gathering info to help a situation u may be in.
    Right now I am reading: Become a better you, by Joel Osteen
    I have found a lot of info in this book that focuses on who you are and were you should be as far as gods plan.
    I hope this book will help other people to relize that life on earth is short, but through god it is forever.
    Please remember if you ask god to come into your heart he will, also you really have no control how things go, only
    choices to help you do the right thing.
    That was a hard lesson for me to learn, due to the fact I love to think I have control. If you ask god take the control he will
    and you will not have to worry knowing god has a plan.

  4. I just read The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and really liked it. Very interesting account of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. So much about it that I never knew!

  5. Oh my, more books to add to my list. I also read A Homemade Life. I really enjoyed it. The only recipe I have tried was the Chocolate Banana Bread with Crystalized Ginger. IT was YUM>

  6. I think I would go for the “How to Look Expensive” and “Kisses for Katie”. I’ve seen Kisses for Katie recommended on more than one blog, so I know it’s gonna be good!

  7. Jessica, I LOVE The Mysterious Benedict Society. My then-boyfriend (Or was it financee? Who cares? He’s my husband now!) passed it on to me after he read it. I could not put it down. We’ve since read the sequels together. We both agree the first was our favorite, but they were all good. It will be great when my son is old enough for us to read TMBS with him.

  8. Oh! I’ve added Call the Midwives to my list. I loved both of Kathleen Flinn’s, more so than Wizenburg’s, but it was still good. This week, I read “The Baker’s Daughter” by Sarah McCoy and that was a riveting WWII story, also set in modern day Texas. I’d highly recommend it!

    • Kristen,

      I really, really enjoyed “Call the Midwives” (minus that one chapter), so I hope you do too. I’m currently reading the second book by Jennifer Worth, “Shadows of the Workhouse”, which picks up more stories from the TV series, but is also incredibly sad. Look for a full review next month!

      Carrie

  9. I agree with Anne about Kisses from Katie. The story is good, but the story-telling falls short. Too much telling and not enough showing. I’d have loved more description in the events she recounted. Without that, they started to sound a lot alike by the end. That said, though, this is a powerful book of how God uses his people to build his kingdom.

    And on Sense and Sensibility, it is one of my 6 all time favorite Jane Austen novels! (No, I don’t rank them. Well … except to say that Persuasion and Northanger Abbey are tied for first place.) Sir John Middleton has to be the best neighbor anyone could ever have, and as for Willoughby all I can say is that man could stand a good horse-whipping.

    Cheers,
    Tim

    • Tim, thanks for making me feel like less of a horrible person for not loving Kisses from Katie. I loved the story and the message, but I agree with your too much telling, too little showing assessment. (And she had a co-author, too!)

      Love your take on S&S. Obviously. :)

      • Hmm, Anne Bogel being a horrible person … Nope, can’t see it.

      • Jessica Fisher says:

        Ha! I hope I didn’t make you feel bad. Once I read yours and Tim’s comments, I thought about it again. I did skip over those journally/meditation sections and just read the storyline.

    • Perhaps I didn’t need the excessive description because my personal experience in similar situations overseas gave me a context for reading it? I suppose that could be. Whatever the case…the good news is that there are a lot of books in this world, and there’s something for everyone! :)

  10. Thanks for the link-up, Jessica. I’m glad I could participate this month. And thanks for all of the recommendations, girls.

    I added A Homemade Life to my reading list a few months ago when Anne first recommended it. I hope to read it soon.

    Oh, and Carrie: I love that last scene with Elinor and Edward, too! Emma Thompson is so great in that movie. Just a bit of Oscar trivia: the winner for best director this year – Ang Lee for Life of Pi – also directed S&S.

  11. I loved Call the Midwife but I agree that that particular chapter was unneccessarily graphic. I think I actually shuddered. I have read two of Worth’s other memoirs; the last one, Farewell to the East End had some really disturbing portions when she spends a few chapters discussing abortion. The story related to abortion was also graphic and upsetting, and I was disappointed by her perspective of wanting to provide a “medically safe” abortion for the small percentage of women who will (in her words) “always want an abortion”. She actually states that it wasn’t a moral issue for her, but a medical issue.

    • Thanks for the heads up, Elizabeth. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who hated that one chapter, and still enjoyed the book as a whole. :) If I can say one thing for Worth, it’s that she’s pretty honest with her opinions. While I might disagree with her, at least I know where she stands and it’s not just implied in the story or stated as fact for all to accept – rather she gives HER point of view (in a “take it or leave it” kind of way). The abortion scene in “Call the Midwife” was rather brutal as well, but when I mentioned it to my husband (a missionary kid who grew up in South America), he nodded and said that a girl who did some housework for a fellow missionary family died as a result of a similar attempt at abortion. That was in the late 80′s!

      My assumption is that Worth is speaking from a nurses point of view – not a Christian/moral one. As a nurse, she sees the side of human nature that is going to find a way to have an abortion, whether it’s legal and safe or not (and she would be correct). And as a nurse, she would rather it be done – if they insist on it being done – in a safe, clean, healthy environment. From a purely hygienic/medical side – I see her point. From a moral side, based on my Faith, I would prefer alternatives, like teaching abstinence or, if it’s too late for that, promoting adoption. But that’s a whole other post, eh? :)

  12. Hi girls,

    I’m currently teaching Sense and Sensibility to college freshman. They enjoy it after they get past the first few chapters. (I have a bunch of resources on my course web site if you’re interested. http://www.cherriporter.com/sensesensibility.html)

    By the way, women and daughters could legally inherit property, but it was not that common. Entails were often used as a way to keep the property in the male line for multiple generations–they curtailed who could potentially own the property not just in the next generation, but in the one after that as well. This kept property not only out of the hands of daughters, but also the men those daughters might marry, which was often the goal. Here is more information on emails if you like. http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/pptopic2.html#entail

    • Interesting, Cherri. But it makes sense (keeping it out of the hands of possible unsuitable suitors). It also makes sense because in Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine makes a big deal about how she hasn’t entailed Rosings away from her daughter, Anne. Thanks for the background info!

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      Thanks for clearing that up! Entailments always baffled me. Why would you want to do that?

  13. I am reading What’s Eating Your Child (fab and makes you think) also reading Sheparding A Child’s Heart (very slow and super wordy but, some great content.

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