On Becca’s Bookshelf // April 2015 Edition

Recently Updated1 April was a month of wonderful reads! I’m excited to share these with you all. Which ones have you already read?

  • Being Moral by Atul Gawande — The author is a general surgeon in Boston and the author of several bestsellers that I have devoured over the years. He has such an eloquent way of explaining the medical world to the common man, which I hugely admire as an RN. In this book, he tackles the concept of dying in modern American medicine, exploring both old age and illness. My biggest takeaway: hospice at home is a great gift to families and the dying. I would love my parents to read this book, and I think everyone should. — 5 stars
  • Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins — Critics compare this book to Gone Girl, but I don’t like that comparison. Yes, it’s a female thriller, but where Gone Girl had depth and insight into human nature, Girl on the Train has shock factor and not one relatable character. I have to give it a few stars because I couldn’t put it down and I was totally surprised by the ending, but beyond that… I’m not a fan. Very dark, sad story of some very desperate, twisted people. Reader discretion advised. — 3 stars
  • The Art of Arranging Flowers by Lynne Branard — Never judge a book by its cover. This one gave me such high hopes! But instead it was a wordy novel with flat, stereotypical characters and a slow, tepid plot line. Also, the author avoided writing about some of the most interesting parts by just skipping ahead in the story and referring to those events in past tense. Disappointing. Now this means, of course, that someone else needs to write a good novel about the owner of a flower shop… hmm… — 2 stars
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo — This little book has swept the world with its revolutionary advice. Kondo’s style and advice is truly unique as she guides you, step by step, through cleaning out your whole house of “everything that does not bring you joy” and then reorganizing it in the space you already have. She promises that her clients never backslide and that tidying up so thoroughly in this way will transform your life. The book is totally materialistic, assuming that possessions and the arrangement of them will give you the greatest joy in life, but it is still enormously helpful in allowing you to assess what you have, what you need, and get rid of excess. — 4 stars
  • The Big Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Brisley — I read this aloud to Lena after finding it at a used book sale at our library. The illustrations are beautiful, but the story is very simplistic. Very U.K. in the 1920s. Might be more fun for a young girl to read to herself at age eight or so than for a mother to read aloud to her daughter. — 3 stars
  • An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aiden This book is Part I of a trilogy re-telling “Pride & Prejudice” from Darcy’s perspective. Initially I was not that interested because the book is very true to Austen’s writing style, and I find Austen difficult to read. (Is that sacrilegious to Austen fans out there?!) However, once I got into the story, I found myself thinking about it all the time, eager to read a few more pages about Darcy falling in love with Elizabeth. I’m planning to read the other two books in the trilogy… just because I want to know how it ends all over again! — 3 stars
  • Pippi Goes on Board by Astrid Lindgren — Another rollicking Pippi classic! Lena and I enjoyed this book so much that I read it aloud to her twice before returning it to the library. Lena named her favorite kitten Pippi, and so far our little Pippi is living up to her namesake. — 5 stars
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith — I have been meaning to read this book for ages, but finally my book club chose it as our April read and I had the kick in the pants that I needed. It took a few chapters to get into the story, but once I was I found myself sighing and laughing and reading multiple passages aloud to Elliott. Such a “true truth” story with such magnificent characters, set in a slice of time in American history that we will never get back. The most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long while.Β  6 stars (because this is my blog and it deserves it!)

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What did you read in April? Have you read any of these books? Readers and I would love any recommendations if you have them!

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22 Responses to On Becca’s Bookshelf // April 2015 Edition

  1. Gabriele May 4, 2015 at 7:28 am #

    May I recommend “The Road To Character” by David Brooks. This book blew me away. Brooks is a New York Times columnist who has come to himself and realized, in a nutshell, you can have a rΓ©sumΓ© life or a eulogy life. You can live to make yourself look great or live to be remembered as a loving, service oriented, whole person.

    • Becca May 6, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

      This is a wonderful recommendation and sounds like a book I would love. Thank you, Gabriele!

  2. Laurel May 4, 2015 at 8:42 am #

    You had a great reading month!
    I’m s.l.o.w.l.y. making my way through “Middlemarch” by George Eliot. (This spring weather is making it hard to get any reading done! But I’m not complaining! ;)) I’ve been thinking of reading “The Girl on the Train” but your assessment of it makes me think I probably won’t like it either. Perhaps I’ll pick up “Gone Girl” instead. I’m looking forward to “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” up…still waiting on it from the library.

    • Becca May 6, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

      I want to read Middlemarch! I just saw that a new movie is coming out for Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd,” and it looks so good. Makes me want to read that book before the movie is released, though!

  3. Joy @ Jumbled Up Joy May 4, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Yay! One of the posts I look forward to most at the beginning of every month!

    So…. Interesting about Girl on the Train. There is another writer I really like who recommended it strongly… But she is also the one who recommended This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and a number of others I didn’t enjoy much. Whereas I tend to agree more with your recommendations. It’s interesting to figure out who you agree with more.

    I bought The Life-Changing Magic… a couple months ago, but I haven’t read it yet. I don’t knew why not, really. I don’t know if it’s just because a whole slew of library books I’d requested came in at the same time, and I only have so much reading time. Or if it’s because I tend to practice the “If it doesn’t spark joy, don’t keep it” part already. Or the “tired socks” and crying over the shampoo bottles I’ve read about. But it’s first on my list to read after I finish the homeschool year and before the baby comes (assuming there is time.). ;-)

    • Becca May 6, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

      Yes, I feel like I do use a lot of “Life Changing Magic”‘s advice already, or had already heard it through a couple of different blogs. Still, I feel like I need to sit down one evening and really go through my closet like she recommends, maybe sometime when my husband is out of town and I can just take over the bedroom and go nuts! She says to get out EVERY PIECE OF CLOTHING YOU OWN and put it all over your room and then start weeding, and I know that would be totally intimidating and overwhelming and discouraging and invigorating.

  4. emily May 4, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    maybe your 6 stars will be the kick in the pants I need to read a tree grows in brooklyn!! I love that you do this post every month!

    • Becca May 6, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

      This is definitely my favorite post each month. :)

  5. Sarah R May 4, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    I am so with you about “Girl on the Train.” I didn’t put it down, but I also guessed the end about half way through, so I had to finish to make sure I was right! I’m glad the characters aren’t my friends!

    Have you read “The Language of Flowers”? You might like that one better than “The Art of Arranging Flowers”.

    • Becca May 6, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

      YES, I really enjoyed “The Language of Flowers”! Reminded me of “Orphan Train” with the way it conveyed such a huge, powerful story in somehow not very many pages. A wonderful recommendation.

  6. Andrea @ TLWH May 4, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all time favorites – possibly my top favorite! I could be continuously reading it and never grow tired of it!

    • Becca May 6, 2015 at 9:57 pm #

      I can’t wait to enjoy it again already. How did the author do it?!

  7. Caroline May 4, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

    One of my favorite teachers of all time had “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” on our summer reading list the year before I started High School. I was so intimidated by my first class with required reading before the school year had even begun! I remember working through the first couple chapters wondering if it’d be boring then — wishing I had my own fire escape to sit out on and look at the world. I settled for a rocking chair by the window in the second story of our house and loved every minute of it!

    • Becca May 6, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

      What a great memory! I remember the first time I read a really big novel, an “adult” novel, and how intimidating it was! I think my first one was “The Robe,” followed soon after by “Gone With the Wind.” Both blew my mind and remain some of the most memorable and favorite books I’ve ever read.

  8. Amanda S. May 4, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    My dad bought me A Tree Grows in Brooklyn many moons ago, because he said the girl in the story reminded him of me. I did not really see that, but I did love the book, and it holds special meaning as a gift from my dad.

    • Becca May 6, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

      That is beautiful, and I’d love to be told that I am something like Frances! She’s so thoughtful and determined, but also real and human. A compliment, I am sure!

  9. Liz Rogers May 5, 2015 at 6:31 am #

    We also read Pippy Goes on Board in April at our house! Amanda is not fond of books or reading, but with this book she couldn’t get enough! We’ve gone backward and gotten the first now and are reading it. The highlight of her weekends now :)

    • Becca May 6, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

      So wonderful! There’s just something about Pippi…

  10. Karen May 24, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    I just finished Being Moral. It was so compelling and gave me so much to think about. I recommended it to my parents today. It made me look back at my grandparents’ final months and then got me thinking about my parents and mother-in-law and the kinds of choices our family will have to make. My husband and I had a number of heavy conversations as I read the book. At first I thought it was so sad, but by the end I felt more empowered.

    • Becca June 24, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

      So glad you liked it! I felt the same way. It has totally changed my perspective on end-of-life care and living.

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