Archive of ‘Reading’ category

What I Read This Month: February 2017

Last month, I told you about my goal to read 30 books in 2017. I am happy to report that I am ahead of schedule! I read another 4 books in February, which leaves me with 22 left to reach my goal. Read on to see what I read in February.

What I read in February

At first I thought I may have been too modest with my goal and should have set the bar a little higher. However, I can already feel myself pulling back a little. I think it’s because I have been choosing books that are a little too heavy. I had a 50/50 split between fiction and non-fiction this month, which is an improvement over last month. But the fiction was still pretty intense. I’m going to keep this in mind over the next month or two when I am choosing my books.

Cockpit Confidential: Everything you Need to Know About Air Travel by Patrick Smith

cockpit confidential by patrick smith

I spent a lot of time on airplanes last year, but that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. I’ve never been a relaxed flyer, but I have certainly come to terms with the fact that flying really is a necessary evil. I have found that two glasses of wine at the beginning of any flight does wonders in calming my anxieties, but it doesn’t really help get to the root of them. I’ve seen this book mentioned in various places and was curious to see if reading it could help me overcome my nervousness. I found that the author struck a good balance between the science behind flying and stories from his many years in the cockpit.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be 100% cured of my flight insecurities — I’m still not exactly comfortable during take-off — but I no longer have the feeling of dread when I have to get on a plane. I purposely read this book before we left for Hokkaido last month, and I can attest to the magic of this book. In fact, I had no problems before or during our flight to Hokkaido last month…with ZERO glasses of wine! I definitely recommend reading this if you’re a nervous flyer!

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A friend introduced me to this book after I asked for recommendations last month. Doctor Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon, was diagnosed with cancer just as he finished his training. He wrote this book while he was dying. As morbid as it sounds, I actually enjoyed reading this. Maybe appreciated is a better word? I was in awe reading about how he handled the fact that the life he and his wife had planned for was no longer going to happen. I’d recommend this book for sure, but it’s certainly not light reading.

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

I chose this book on the recommendation from an expat friend.The story is set in Afghanistan, and follows two separate story lines – the stories of Rahima and Shekiba. Both women found themselves practicing bacha posh, the custom of a family choosing one daughter in the family to dress and live as a male. Simply dressing as a boy allows the girl certain freedoms — attending school, going out in public without an escort and escorting her sisters in public, and working to help support the family — that are not granted to females.

I found this custom fascinating, especially because it really isn’t meant to deceive anyone. In fact, members of the community will usually know that the child is, in fact, a girl.

As an American woman, it’s easy to rattle off the numerous ways things differ for men and women in our own culture. But reading about how these women used the custom of bacha posh to ultimately save their lives was a great reminder on just how privileged we actually are. Overall, I’d recommend this book, especially if you enjoyed anything by Khaled Hosseini, author of the Kite Runner.

The Translator by Nina Schuyler

Imagine waking up after surviving a horrible accident only to find that you are no longer able to speak your native language. That’s what happened to Hanne, the lead character in this novel. She awoke after a freak accident and could only speak Japanese, a language she learned later in life. She ends up leaving the US and travels to Japan, where most of the story takes place.

Overall, I thought the concept for this story was interesting, and there were some parts of her experience that I could relate to, but I found that overall this story didn’t keep my attention. Not my favorite, but not terrible.

What are You Reading?

Have you read anything you loved lately? What is on your list to read next?

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links

What I Read this Month: January 2017

I love to read. LOVE it. I love nothing more than reading for hours, accidentally staying up until 2:00 AM because I can’t put my book down. There have been multiple occasions where I have been known to read a book cover to cover in less than 24 hours.

I know what you’re thinking…it must be nice to have all of that time to read. Well, it is. But the truth is that I have (almost) always been able to find time to read. I am a firm believer in making time for the things that make you happy. If you love something you will give something else up to make time for it.

Like sleep, which I don’t necessarily recommend.

Many of the very best people I know share my love of books. Since some of you also read this blog, I thought you all might be interested to hear about the books I read in January. I also set a goal to read at least 30 books in 2017, and thought this would be a great way to keep track of my progress.

4 down, 26 to go!

What I Read in January

January started out with me lounging on a boat on the Great Barrier Reef, which allowed for ample reading time. I love taking my Kindle (which just happens to be $20 off right now!) with me on vacation, and often add at least one travel-related book to it when I am getting ready to go on holiday.

Here’s what I read last month:

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

This is the travel book I added for our Australia trip. It has been on my list for a few months but I can’t remember where I first heard of it.

Side note: I tend to collect random book titles on “to read someday” lists and haven’t really had a great way to organize them until now. With my reading goal in mind, I decided it was time to finally create a Goodreads account. If you are unfamiliar with Goodreads, it allows you to track and review the books you’ve read, as well as create a list of books to read in the future. You can also get recommendations based on what you loved. You can add friends to see what they’ve read and loved, too. Leave me a comment with your username if you’d like me to add you as a friend!

Okay, on to the book: Instead of settling down and having babies in her late twenties and early thirties, Newman was traveling the world (often by herself) for multiple weeks each year. This is a great book if you want to live vicariously through her travels. It was interesting to notice how her personality changed when she left the country. I was also interested to hear the lessons she learned about being a good travel partner. Finally, I enjoyed getting to peek into her life since it is so different from my own. She talks about traveling solo because she didn’t want to wait for others to be ready and willing to travel with her, and I can definitely relate to that. If you like hearing peoples’ travel stories or just like reading memoirs in general, I’d definitely recommend.

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim

I have been intrigued by North Korea for a long time, even more so now that we live in close proximity. We are planning to travel to South Korea later this year, and are hoping to make a trip to the DMZ when we do. You’ll see that I tend to follow my curiosity when it comes to my book choices, and in January I wanted to learn more about North Korea and the people who live there.

Unfortunately, the only way we outsiders will ever learn about the people of North Korea is if brave journalists like the author of this book put their lives at risk to bring their stories to us. I have such respect for Kim, a journalist, who posed as a teacher and a Christian missionary (she is neither a teacher nor a Christian) in order to investigate the lives of the North Korean elite. She was given permission by the North Korean government to teach at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and along with her position came unprecedented access to the students there.

She was able to fool everyone, but was constantly worried about being found out by the government — or her fellow teachers. I found this story fascinating, and it piqued my desire to do more research. If you are at all interested in North Korea, I consider this a must read.

Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea by Jang Jin-sung

Dear Leader: My Escape from North Korea by Jang Jin-sung

I told you I was on a North Korea kick this month! This incredible story follows the author on his journey to defect from North Korea. Jin-sung, an elite member of the North Korean government, escaped via China in 2004. This book tells the story of his escape, along with what he saw while working for the government. He also delves into the history of the country, detailing Kim Jong-il’s (and consequently, Kim Jong-un’s) rise to power. It’s a fascinating look in to the world’s most brutal regime. Reading about the methodical way the regime controls absolutely everything was equally fascinating and terrifying. I couldn’t put this book down. Another must read for those interested in this mysterious country.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Sadly, I considered this psychological thriller to be light reading after my previous two books.

This story follows Rachel, a divorced alcoholic who rides the same commuter train each day. One day, she sees something shocking during her commute and becomes involved in the investigation of a local missing woman. If you like psychological thrillers, chances are that you’ll like this.

What are You Reading?

I think I need to add some lighter reading next month, what do you think?

What have you been reading? I’d love some (fiction or non-fiction) recommendations!

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links