Booking It – June 2013

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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 June!

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. And don’t forget to check out Anne’s reading guide for the summer: Ultimate Beach Reading! 

What Carrie read

This month I read several books for work (which I won’t review), and finished a number of books that have been in process for a year or longer, none of which were good enough to recommend, truth be told. However, I did allow myself one new book for fun, which I’m sharing today.

limpopThe Limpopo Academy of Private Detection: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (#13)

by Alexander McCall Smith

Back in 2003, a friend who knew my love of culture and mysteries suggested that I should read the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books. I managed to get my hands on book #1 and I fell in love immediately (note: this does not happen to everyone who tries to read this series). In 2005, I was thrilled when my husband and I made plans to spend a few months living in the land I was first introduced to by “Mma Ramotswe”: Botswana.

Our time in Botswana showed me just what a good author Smith is. Having read a few of the books before we arrived, I was so pleased to see there really was a Riverwalk mall (I did my grocery shopping there), the Moffats are real people (and were our neighbors at one point), and there is, in fact, a real Zebra Drive. And yet, because of his colorful and accurate descriptions, I didn’t need to see all of those people and places in person before the characters and locations came to life.

Although I’m not a fan of all Smith’s fictional characters, I never get tired of Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi. Each new book is like a short trip back to Botswana, and The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection is no exception. If you’ve never read a book in this series, don’t come into it expecting it to be fast paced or exciting, but do expect to learn something about human nature, culture, and the beautiful country that Mma Ramotswe calls home. The characters are delightful, the mysteries are charming, and the ending? Happy, as always.

What Jessica says: Someday. Someday. I’m going to give this series another go. I’ve tried, somewhat haphazardly. I will try again.

And I still think you should abandon a lame book. Revisit it a year later if you want, but don’t let it hang over your head. 🙂

Carrie’s Reply: I know, I know – but until I can convince my OCD side that it can let go of a book without guilt, it’s just not happening! Haha!

profile picWhat Anne read

homeward boundHomeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity

by Emily Matchar

I’m fascinated by cultural and sociological trends, so I was eager to read this new release which explores the rise of the traditional domestic arts–knitting, canning, cupcake making–among the hipster generation. I was also a little skeptical, because I felt exactly the same way prior to picking up Radical Homemakers…and I hated it.

Turns out I had reason to be skeptical. The premise was intriguing but the book didn’t deliver. For a piece of journalism, Matchar cited too few subject too many times, and her conclusions felt flimsy and forced.

What Jessica says: I was wondering if this was worth my time. So curious, though, if it really is as critical of women choosing domestic arts as folks said it was.
What Carrie says: I appreciate your honest review of this, Anne. I have seen it and wondered if it was worth reading, but it sounds like one to skip. Plus, having tried several of the “traditional domestic arts” myself and realizing I didn’t really enjoy any of them, I finally realized that most women in history didn’t knit, can, or bake for FUN, but for NECESSITY. I’m guessing if many of them had had access to inexpensive, ready made food and clothing, they might have chosen to buy. 🙂

churchillForty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life

by Gretchen Rubin

All I knew about this book was that Gretchen Rubin wrote immediately before she hit it big with The Happiness Project. But I thought the “forty ways” approach sounded interesting, and my knowledge of history could use a little boost, so I decided to give it a go.

Rubin explains the significance of the “forty ways” approach in the introduction. In biblical times, the number “forty” would be like us saying “a million” today, and it means to examine the subject from every possible angle.

In 40 short chapters, Rubin does just that. Much of the information presented is contradictory, which ironically makes this short biography feel complete, if not conclusive. I recommend picking this one up, for its readability and its unique approach to a familiar subject.

What Jessica says: I had no idea that there was a reasoning behind the forty ways. I find that fascinating. Gretchen is such a keeper of odd knowledge. I love that!
What Carrie says: This one is going on my “to read” list!

What Jessica Read

eatfrogEat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

by Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog is considered by some to be one of the standards of time management. It’s old, so the ideas might not seem as new to us as they were when the book was first printed. However, I found it to be super helpful, full of general reminders and specific applications of prioritizing, avoiding procrastination, and playing to one’s strengths.

I had a beef with chapter 16’s positive thinking attitude. It’s not that I don’t think we should be optimistic, we should. But my optimism is based on what Christ has done and who He is, not whatever positive messages I repeat to myself until I believe them. My “optimism”, if we call it that, is based on truth.

Chapter 17 dated itself tremendously with its talk of Blackberry devices, Outlook, Maximizer (what is that?!) and DSL. Take it with a grain of salt. A lot of what he said was still pertinent.

Overall, I felt it was worth my time. I usually read it while riding the exercise bike, killing two birds with one stone. How’s that for efficiency? If you’re not in the workplace, simply replace “colleagues” with “family” as you read and you can often apply it to your homelife.

What Anne says: I’ve never read Eat That Frog, and had always heard it’s much longer than it needs to be. But I’m intrigued by your review.
What Jessica says: Yes, that’s what I heard, too. That all you really needed to know was to do the hard thing first. But, I got more out of it than that.
What Carrie says: This has been on my “to read” list for a while. Since your review didn’t scare me away from it, I guess it’s worth trying at some point. 🙂

77: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

by Jen Hatmaker

I am late to the 7 party. I honestly had never heard of Jen Hatmaker or read any of her stuff until this book started buzzing about the internets. Still I resisted. I am skeptical of books that “everyone is talking about”. Eventually I read them, but usually am not first in line.

I forgot that I had put this book on hold at the library until I read her viral post on the end of the school year mom. She made me laugh. So, I said to myself, OK, I’ll go check out that 7 book.

Lo and behold, not only had I already requested it, but it arrived at my library shelf the very next day. Happenstance? Perhaps.

I’ve been reading the book over the last few weeks, grabbing snatches of it from time to time. I like the book. It’s given me MUCH food for thought. The spending chapter resonated with me the most. Go figure. The chapter on stress, which is really about trusting God and prayer, has, too.

It is a funny, honest, insightful look at how you spend your time, your money, and your life. I’m contemplating how much it will really change me, but it’s definitely given me lots to think about.

What Anne says: I loved 7, and am happy to hear you enjoyed it.
What Carrie says: This is another one that’s on my list – you ladies are hitting all the ones I’ve been wondering about! 🙂 I’m glad to read that you thought it was worthwhile, even starting as a skeptic (I’m feeling the same way).

railway childrenThe Railway Children

by Edith Nesbit

The kids’ writing curriculum has exposed us to some great novels. This is one of them. I was so intrigued by the excerpts in the younger kids’ assignment that I checked out the book. I read it on my own in a day. Later, I read it to the kids.

We read two to three chapters of The Railway Children  every day over the last month. Bobby, Peter, Phyllis, and their mother find themselves without Father and suddenly poor. It’s a fun and beautiful story set in 1905 England.

Everyone of the kids was interested in how the tale turned out. I find that there is a wealth of books that I missed out on as a child. I’m making up for lost time now.

What Anne says: The only previous book I’ve read by E. Nesbit was Five Children and It, which wasn’t really my style. I wasn’t really planning on reading any more by her, but I might pick this one up for my kids. (Because: railway.)

Also, did you know J.K. Rowling has cited Nesbit as a favorite author and huge Harry Potter inspiration?

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 adores culture, coffee, books, British mystery shows, and her husband of 13 years. She’s spent time in Africa, southeast Asia, and Alaska, and now works from home as a social media book launch project manager. In her spare time, you can find her blogging at Carrie’s Busy Nothings and 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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  1. Love Edith Nesbit – also found her through an author – Edward Eager.
    From that same time with my kids we loved The Saturdays (and ensuing “Melendy” books) by Elizabeth Enright recently republished so maybe at the library?

  2. Thanks. You’ve given me several books to add to my list, especially 7 and The Railway Children. Love the Booking It posts!

  3. I just finished How to Talk to Teenagers so They will Listen And Listen so They Will Talk. My son is only ten and a half, but it was a fantastic read and has given me practical suggestions that I’ve already had some success in implementing. I easily finished it in a day, and would have sooner if life hadn’t kept interrupting!

    I look forward to adding several of your recommendations to my list.

  4. I love the Ladies’ #1 detective agency series! I’m so glad you told me there was a new one out!!

    1. Hi Amanda. So glad to hear from a fellow #1 fan! 🙂

      This one has been out long enough to be in paperback, but here’s a heads up: McCall Smith is coming out with #14 (“The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”) on November 5, so make sure you keep an eye out for that one as well! 🙂

      1. Love this series, so excited to hear he has a new one coming out! The first time I read the first book, I did not like it and did not finish it. I gave it another chance a year or so later, only because I really, really wanted a new series to read (love series books), and liked it this time. I did not, however, enjoy his other series’ that I have tried. Have you watched the movie/tv series version of #1 Ladies? I think it was one season done by HBO. It changed and combined several of the stories but I liked that many of the characters were exactly as I had imagined (good casting) and even my husband watched it with me and seemed to enjoy it.

        1. Hmmm…. I gave up on the first one several years ago, too. Maybe I’ll give it another try.

  5. Thanks, ladies. I always look forward to this feature.

    I’ve been eyeing 7 for a while now. I don’t read much non-fiction, so I’m holding off, but I’m sure I’ll take the plunge one of these days.

    Jessica, The Railway Children sounds really good. I think it would be a good one for my 8 year-old and I to read together.

    1. Jen Hatmaker’s humor is great, especially if you’re mid 30’s, early 40’s and grew up in the US in the 80s. Her references to the past are hilarious.

  6. I had a chance to read a few books this month, hopefully I will get the review posted today. Meanwhile, I have held off on reading 7 because I semi afraid one of two things will happen, one -I will do absolutely nothing to change my life, because there is no way I’m going as far as she did, or two- I will spend the whole time feeling beaten up, that I’m not doing something right. I know there is a nice middle of the road way to read that book, I think I need to mentally prepare first though. I did enjoy The Power of Half when I read it a few years ago, and it seems to be written in the same vein. You should check that one out.

    1. I totally get that. That’s why I’ve never watched Food, Inc. 🙂 If you are already on the road to some of the changes she talks about, then you’ll be fine. But, if eating local or organic, recycling, giving, shopping less, buying less are new concepts, then yes, it might be overwhelming. I say pray for wisdom that God will show you what baby step He wants you to make from it.

  7. I marked the Winston Churchill book to read – I love biographies! I have been reading too much “fluff” lately and, though I have appreciated the talent of the authors, I picked up L.M. Montgomery’s “The Blue Castle” last month and it felt so refreshing. Seriously, like I had been in a drought and was parched for goodness. They just don’t make ’em like they used to!

  8. I recently read “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” by Susan Elia MacNeal and really enjoyed it. It is a novel and a fun summer read.

  9. I would agree with Carrie in that clearly women in history carried out domestic “arts” out of necessity. However, many of us enjoy them today because we don’t HAVE to do them, but can appreciate what it takes to do so, save some money, perhaps live a little healthier, and in the end can say “I did it myself!” 🙂

    1. I didn’t. Does she recommend books each month or something? I’m a little out of her loop. I couldn’t keep watching the daily videos, so I unsubscribed awhile back.

      1. Yes, once a month. And it’s really the only thing I keep up with on her site. She pics three books each month: a general book on happiness, an outstanding children’s or YA book, and an “eccentric” book.