Reading What I Have Challenge – May 2016

I could read for years from the books that are already on my shelf or saved on my Kindle app. Literally HUNDREDS of books, mostly fiction, a few self-help types. Inspired by Heather at Simply Save, each month I will be posting an update of which books I’ve read and what I thought of them. The goal is to work through everything I already have before spending money on any new reading material.

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Some months I read a LOT of books, other months I’m so busy reading other things online that I barely get into a real book. My goal is at least one book per week, but May was another one of those months when I did not read as many regular books. Instead, I was reading articles and blogs, writing, and posting on my blog.

Here are the books I read during May and my thoughts:

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The Confession – John Grisham

Amazon description:

An innocent man is about to be executed.
Only a guilty man can save him.

In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, Travis Boyette abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.
Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess. But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?

My thoughts:

This wasn’t my favorite John Grisham book. (It seems like his books are really hit or miss with me.) It was totally predictable and didn’t really have anything at all to do with practicing law. Still, even though you can see what’s going to happen, Grisham has a way of pulling you in and keeping you reading for almost 600 pages even when you’re pretty sure you know what’s coming next. I admire that.

There were some interesting components to the books. Of course, the heart of the story was the debate over the death penalty. But what I found most compelling was Grisham’s ability to write characters who could be real people. While some of the storylines were tied up just a little too neatly, I liked how some of the others left you wondering how those people would deal with events during the coming years (even though you know they are not real people, you still wonder).

I’m never sorry about reading a Grisham book, but I think this one could have accomplished the same storytelling in far fewer pages — then I may have had time to read another book this month. 😉

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The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

Amazon Description:

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that is not meant to be read…

My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you have built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

My thoughts:

This book has been on my shelf forever, and I was finally nudged into reading it by THIS post from the blog Hopewell’s Library of Life.

This was a very well-written and thought-provoking book. Apparently I’m not the only one to feel that way, since I discovered Amazon is full of “summaries” and “study guides” for the book. Seriously? Seems a little strange to read a summary about a book when you could just read the book and figure it out for yourself, but to each his/her own, I suppose.

I kept finding myself asking, “What is she (Cecilia) going to do?” And then I would wonder why I thought “she” instead of “he” (the husband). And then I would think about the fact that these huge life issues somehow always become the wife’s responsibility. It’s almost like as soon as she knew about it, the husband was off the hook for his actions. And he allowed it to be that way. But so did she. Why do men do that? And why do we let them?

I liked the fact that the story was told from several viewpoints and had substories built into it — this added a depth you don’t usually see in novels. It was a great read and I’ll definitely be looking for more by this author (you know, after I finish the many books I already have).

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South of Superior – Ellen Airgood

Amazon Description:

A debut novel full of heart, in which love, friendship, and charity teach a young woman to live a bigger life.

When Madeline Stone walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she isn’t prepared for how much her life will change.

Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Arbutus, two octogenarian sisters-one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As Madeline begins to experience the ways of the small, tight-knit town, she is drawn into the lives and dramas of its residents. It’s a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but friendship, community, and compassion run deeper. As the story hurtles along–featuring a lost child, a dashed love, a car accident, a wedding, a fire, and a romantic reunion-Gladys, Arbutus, and the rest of the town teach Madeline more about life, love, and goodwill than she’s learned in a lifetime.

A heartwarming novel, South of Superior explores the deep reward in caring for others, and shows how one who is poor in pocket can be rich in so many other ways, and how little it often takes to make someone happy.

My thoughts:

There is just something about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and something almost magical about the shore of Lake Superior. (One of my daily writings was done while reading this book.) I knew when I was reading the book that the author had to live there — you can’t write about that way of life without firsthand knowledge. Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived in Michigan and spent many summer weeks in the U.P. over the years, but I found this book to be one of those that I just can’t forget.

One of my favorite lines from the book: “If she kept it an iron-clad secret — almost even from herself — then there could be no pressure, no expectation, no disappointment or failure. There could be magic, and art could happen.” (Page 194) It reminds me that our best work happens when we least expect it, and we need to embrace the absence of expectation.

I checked out the author’s website in hopes that she had written more books since this one, but it appears her two more recent books (Prairie Evers and The Education of Ivy Blake) are targeted toward young adults. Even though that is not my preferred genre, I still may read them at some later date.

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Reading Challenge Progress

Aside from reading, I made some digital minimalizing progress this month, managing to delete 15 unread titles from my Kindle library. Some of those books had been sitting there for almost 4 years. You know, it’s tough to hit “delete” when Kindle asks if you really want to permanently delete a title. Yikes! But yes! I also completely unsubscribed from BookBub emails. It’s easy enough to subscribe again at some future point.

I’m looking forward to having a little more reading time in June! School will be out and my part-time job will be on summer hiatus, plus we will be on vacation for a while — I usually read while my guys are fishing.  😉  I have a minimum goal of 6 books.

What have you been reading lately? Comment with a link to your post if you’ve written about it!


2 thoughts on “Reading What I Have Challenge – May 2016”

  1. momssmallvictories

    I’ve been reading mostly review books but after the next two I have not accepted anymore, time to read what I want. Happy reading! I have The Husband’s Secret on my shelf waiting! Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup. Pinned to our linkup board.

    1. Hi Tanya! The Husband’s Secret will really make you think! I hope you also write reviews of the “regular” books you read… I always enjoy your insights.

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