12.19.2016

reading rainbow



Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nahalia Holt--4.5 stars: I think I actually screamed when I first read about this book. I'm OBSESSED with all things Space Age. My grandpa was an engineer who worked on the rockets during this time period, and my mom was a rare female computer programmer and worked for a company that supported the space shuttle. If she had been alive several decades earlier, this book would've been about my mom. It starts off around the 30s and 40s and details the founding of JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory). As the male engineers invent the rocket, they hire female "computers," who are brilliant mathematicians who calculate things like rocket trajectory and the amount of fuel needed and other things that make my brain cramp. It follows these women through the decades, and how their jobs change with marriage and children, technology, higher education, and the founding of NASA. This book is FANTASTIC. There are some math and sciencey moments that are hard to understand (I did not inherit the family math brains), but it is all so brilliant. I am in awe of the these women and what they accomplished.

For fans of: The Astronauts Wives Club, The Space Age, women doing awesome and hard things, math, science, and other forms of torture


Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin--3 stars: I've read Shannan's blog for years, and I'm pretty familiar with her story. She and her husband had high-profile DC jobs and lived in their dream home. After losing their jobs and selling their house and farm, they felt called to move to a somewhat dangerous, low-income neighborhood to serve their neighbors. She talks a lot about how they hadn't realized how attached they had been to their money and things until they lost it all and finally felt liberated, and how success shouldn't be defined by your home or bank account. Those are the parts of the book I really loved. The book is mainly about social justice and the need to seek out and serve those around us. While she's not wrong in anything she says, and I was challenged in many ways, her tone bothered me at times. She occasionally comes across as one of those people that implies that if we don't share her exact convictions and give up all our earthly comforts for those around us, then we're doing everything wrong and not actually Christians. And it does seem like she ely evates feeding the hungry over sharing the gospel, both of which are highly important, but one even more so. It was good to read more of her story and her thought process through all their major life changes, and it is powerful and convicting, but I think I have to disagree with some of her stances and priorities. I don't know. I'm honestly still chewing on it.

For fans of: Shannon's blog, riches to rags stories, social justice, feeling like you're doing it all wrong


A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot--4 stars: Hot dang, this book was intense. I've been intrigued by Amy Carmichael since childhood, but let me just say it for everyone to hear: we would not have been friends. She was so incredibly strict with her life and had the highest expectations of everyone around her. This was a blessing, because she could not have accomplished everything she did in her life without those qualities. I just would've run away as fast as I could've. Elisabeth Elliot (one of my FAVORITE writers of all time) follows the life of Amy from birth through her death, and especially focuses on her missionary work in India. Amy rescued infants and little girls (and later boys) who had been sold to the temple as slaves. She built a home and school for them and raised them with the help of other missionaries. Her courage and ingenuity was astounding. She repeatedly accomplished what no one thought was possible, and she had the strongest faith I've ever seen. Watching how God provided for every tiny need she had did wonders for my own faith. She wrote dozens of books on the side, learned the local language, and battled through some terrible health. She sacrificed every ounce of herself to help others and share the gospel. I will never forget her story, and I will definitely be reading it again.

For fans of: missionary stories, Elisabeth Elliot, theology, faith, stress and conviction, Victorian England and ways of life


The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser--3.5 stars: Your name is Mary Swan Middleton, and you're crazy smart and funny and rattle off rhyming poems like it ain't no thing. It's 1960s Atlanta, and your mom, a renowned painter, was just killed in a terrible plane crash. Your maid (you're white and super rich, btw), brings you down to her church in the dodgiest part of town to help serve a spaghetti dinner to the poor. You mingle with the other side of Atlanta and suddenly realize how bad racial tensions really are. You're torn between your new black friend and the boy back at school you're dating, not to mention, you're starting to learn that your eccentric dead mother had some problems she had been hiding from you. This book sounds like a hot mess, right? It kind of is, but I really enjoyed it. There's a lot of literature, art, and faith woven into this complex story of race relations during the 60s and growing up in the middle of it. The very beginning and ending were a bit vague, which made it difficult to figure out how things were resolved, and I kept forgetting it was set in the 60s since it read like it was modern day, but the subject matter was fascinating.  It wasn't my favorite novel (which, by the way, was based on real events), but it's one of those books I'm still thinking about over a month later.

For fans of: coming of age stories, art, the civil rights movement, literature, faith, not knowing which boy you want the girl to end up with (like Gilmore Girls all over again!)


The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines--5 stars: OH MY HEAVENS YES. I love Fixer Upper, but I'm not a diehard fan like many are. I--gasp--don't always love the shabby chic/all neutral route Joanna tends to go down. But I do love them. And I love their humor and enthusiasm for subway tile, though I could do without hearing the word "ship lap" 500 times per episode (drinking game?). I say all of that nonsense to say that this book was SO GOOD. I could not get enough. I loved reading their backstory of how they met and how different they are. It was cheeky and cute and so entertaining I couldn't put it down. My favorite part was reading all the ways God provided for their every need. They never went without, and reading those stories is always such a morale boost for me. The format was a little strange and kind of read like a transcript of an interview, but I love them and plan to build a guest house on their farm immediately. Preferably in the walnut orchard.

For fans of: Fixer Upper, wondering how Joanna looks that good after 4 kids (she doesn't say, but I still wonder), faith, Texas?


Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham--5 stars: OY WITH THE POODLES ALREADY! I was terrified to read this. LG is one of my kindred spirits, and I can't handle not loving her book. Celebrity memoirs so often fall flat (looking at you, Amy Poehler), but I'm convinced Lauren Graham is Lorelei in real life. That's how entertaining I found this. The chapters about how actors become actors in every memoir is never interesting to me, but she made them hilarious and delightful. Of course, much of the book is focused on Gilmore Girls and Parenthood (but mostly GG). My favorite chapter is the one where she marathons every season of Gilmore Girls and writes down her memories and thoughts of watching them now. She also shares her journal entries from filming the revival (we do not see eye to eye on the musical scene), and her real feelings about how it ended. I have a million thoughts on the revival, and even though this didn't exactly change the ending, it did give me some sort of roundabout closure. But seriously, if you're not a Gilmore Girls fan, don't even bother with this book. If you are---read it immediately. There is some very interesting hinting that takes place toward the end...

For fans of: Gilmore Girls, Sarah Braverman, Someday Someday Maybe, Adam Braverman, Gilmore Girls, Lorelei Gilmore, did I mention Gilmore Girls? 




I also read Walden by Thoreau. You know, that one about nature that you probably had to read in a college lit class or something. Ok, so I didn't read the entire thing. I think I stopped with 30 pages left. I couldn't even make it 30 more pages! I was bored to tears. I loved the beginning, I loved the parts of it I read in college, and I loved the whole idea of building a cabin in the woods and hiding from society. But reading 10 page descriptions of the rocks surrounding Walden Pond is more effective than the strongest sleeping pill. I want to come back to it when I'm more in that frame of mind, but not now. I've also started reading the Harry Potter series, which I'm not reviewing since I'm the last one on the planet to read them. Curiosity got the better of me, and as a former student of literature, I feel like I would have to hand my degree back in if I didn't read them. I'm now throwing myself into the Little House book series. I haven't read them since I was a kid, and winter sounds like a good time to read about cabins in the wood. Just not the cabin at Walden Pond. Heavens, please no.

Tell me what's on your reading list. Every detail. Withhold nothing.

16 comments:

  1. UGH, I wish I had this list two weeks ago when a couple of my aunts were begging me for Christmas gift ideas and I kept coming up blank. I need to keep a closer eye on your Goodreads at this time of the year!!!

    CHIP AND JOJO <3 They are my absolute favorite. I was hoping you would tell me there was going to be an entire chapter dedicated to Jo's hair secrets, but alas, no such luck. Maybe in book #2!!!!

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  2. Is the first book what the new movie Hidden Figures is based on? That movie looks fantastic and I wish we could see it together.

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    1. Slightly different I think, but the women are doing the same jobs! I HAVE TO SEE THAT MOVIE.

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  3. I'm reading the Fixer Upper book right now! Loving it.

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  4. Good to know about Walden! I was planning on finishing it but I might not now. LOL.
    That Falling Free book sounds interesting. I haven't read it, and that would be disappointing if she came across as self righteous. Everyone has their own service/ministry that God calls them to and it can change over and over in life. Being youth group leaders, I think I can maybe understand where they are coming from? (Like I said, I haven't read it so I could be totally wrong). We have so many hurting teens that come from homes that are broken and filled with drugs, selfish parents, etc etc. Ryan and I only wish we had more time and energy to give each and every kid the help that they need to really have a full life/be saved. But the harvest is plenty and the workers are few. And it can get really easy to burn out. We see teens fall through the cracks and wonder if their life could have been different if we had more people invest themselves in the ministry. But we also realize youth ministry isn't for everybody. It's just a matter of people being open to what God calls them to- which looks different to each person.

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    1. I feel so bad I suggested it for us to read! I mean, there are parts of it that I loved, but some of it was so dry my eyes glazed over.

      I would love if you read Falling Free and gave me your opinion. It's been a few months since I read it, so I don't remember exact details. She did make an effort at times to let us know she doesn't have it all figured out, but she also made some blanket statements about us not being christians if we're not constantly seeking the down and out. I'm just not sure I agree with that. We all have our own passions, convictions, and people in our lives to take care of. I don't know. I see her point and I can see why she thinks what she does, but it doesn't apply to a lot of people. And the rich need the gospel just as much as the poor, you know? I'm going to cut myself off before I write an essay.

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    2. Haha! Don't feel bad! I enjoyed what I read. I did start to notice myself glazing over and that's why I didn't read anymore. We will find another book :)
      I will read it sometime! And I completely agree with you. Everyone needs to know about Jesus and not everyone can quit their job or live the way they do. I would love to hear more of what you have to say- feel free to shoot me your essays anytime :D

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  5. But seriously, how DOES Joanna Gaines look that good after having four kids? I NEED TO KNOW.

    I think I already have the highest rated ones on your list added to my Goodreads list, and I don't feel the need to add any of the others, haha. I was intrigued by Falling Free but the last thing I really enjoy is feeling guilt tripped because I'm not "as good" of a Christian as someone who sells every last item they own to feed the poor. Everyone has a different calling and different ways they're supposed to serve, the only "right way" to do it is however God tells you to do it.

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  6. THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME READING HP????? Please post your thoughts when you're all done :) I need to know what you think of them!

    A lot of these are already on my TBR list- thanks for the new adds, though!
    Too cool about your mom and gpa's jobs! (Hope your mom is doing well/feeling better!)

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  7. Your book posts are always great! I'm excited to read LG's memoir once it comes in at the library! I'm reading the Cuckoo's Calling right now (I think we've talked about this). I'm near the end (less than 100 pages left of a 450+-pager!), and I have to say I'm really enjoying it. Can't wait to get to the end and find out who the killer is!

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    1. I want to read the Cuckoo's Calling! I think Rowling would be a natural at writing mysteries :)

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  8. Just added some of these to my reading list! Rocket Girls sounds way awesome, as does The Magnolia Story (I haven't ever seen the Gaines' show, but from what I've heard they just seem like an adorable couple, so I'm sure I'd love the book). I also am glad you bring up the book about Amy Carmichael-I've heard little bits about her, and I love reading stories about missionaries and people who did epic things for God.

    I have to confess, I'm not reading any books right now, which is weird for me! I just finished a marathon of reading bunches of random books a few weeks ago, and I have a book about Rosemary Kennedy I just received for review, but I haven't really started it yet. See, Season 2 of The Man in the High Castle came out a couple days ago, so I've been taking advantage of nursing sessions/cranky teething baby snuggles to watch that ;) But after I do that (and after Christmas travels), I'll be reading the Kennedy book, and I'll probably re-read "Manalive" by Chesterton, because I've only read it once and it's a great book :)

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  9. I am glad to hear you liked Lauren Graham's book. I have been hesitant to pick it up because I would be very upset if it wasn't good.

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  10. Getting LG's book for myself and The Magnolia Story for my SIL. Thanks! How do you read so much?? Always impressed.

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  11. Okay, now I have to pick up Graham's book right away! You sold me! I did get a novel by her that I want to read too that I hear is somewhat autobiographical. I'm glad to hear she is similar to Lorelei in real life (or at least in her writing), because it's sad how boring some actors are when you expect them to be like their characters. So I'm working on Unlocking The Bible (good so far), Scarlet (from the Lunar Chronicles), The Statistical Probability Of Falling In Love (cute so far), and To Kill A Mockingbird (never read it before). I also have never read the Harry Potter series, but a part of me is curious too.

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  12. Your reading list is always so darn interesting. I'm going to be referencing every single reading rainbow post I can while I'm on maternity leave in a few months. But until then, it's mostly work and school :(

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