Category Archives: Rachel

Charmed by Capricorn

Schooled by Gordon Kormanfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

1025250Oh my hippie-loving-heart, this book was the cutest! It has been sitting on my to-read list for the longest time–to the extent that I forgot how it got on there in the first place–but I’m so glad I finally got to it!

A homeschooled long-haired hippie kid named Capricorn has to go to the local public middle school while his grandmother recovers from a fall, and has to learn about things like checkbooks and what a “starbuck” is. There is also the hiccup of thirteen year olds not exactly being allowed to drive school busses , but licenses aren’t really a thing inside the commune. And when he finds out about the whole school locker system, he says things like:

“When we lock things away,” he said with conviction, “we’re really imprisoning ourselves.”

I mean come on, that’s at once both funny and adorable. The popular kids of course try to pick on him, in particular by getting him to run as class president, but Cap’s naiveté and kind nature help him move blissfully forward and naturally draw people to him.

This is geared towards middle schoolers, which I am definitely not, but I think it holds its own. Even though the characters can seem a bit charicature-y, they are far from two dimensional. And aside from delightful quotes like the one above, the book is also full of incredibly touching moments that completely caught me by surprise. I look forward to grabbing my own copy of this one for whenever I want an afternoon of some quick, cozy reading. A not-so-surprising five stars from this closeted free spirit hippie chick!

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Quick Take: Stitches

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair by Anne Lamott
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518ddif1ddl-_sx280_bo1204203200_Years ago, I saw Anne Lamott speak at a conference and it felt like a breath of fresh air. Her explanations of writing and love and grace were unlike anything I had experienced up to that point. I then read Bird by Bird, and got about 300 pages of the same thing. I loved it.

I recently saw Anne Lamott speak again last week at church, and felt more of the same. Afterwards, I got to snag two books and get them signed–this one, and a free copy of her new one, Hallelujah Anyway. Just like a few years back, Stitches was just what I needed.

“Some people have a thick skin and you don’t. Your heart is really open and that is going to cause pain, but that is an appropriate response to this world.”

This is a good book when you’re tired of how f–ked up the world is, which feels like a daily occurrence nowadays (or is that just me?). She makes some great, poetic points interwoven into her beautifully told stories. It’s a super quick read, so you can set aside an afternoon to knock it out. I knocked off a star because the narrative felt a little disorganized at parts.

Side note: I really liked the design of this book, especially the dark green ink for the print. Hallelujah Anyway is printed in dark purple, which I am all about! Why don’t more books do this?!

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Sweet Home Chicago

Chicago: City on the Make by Nelson Algrenfour-star-rating-black-hi

algren-city1“… Chicago divided your heart. Leaving you loving the joint for keeps. Yet knowing it never can love you.”

This book is the perfect embodiment of my love/hate relationship with the city of Chicago. I was born and raised here, living both within and without the city limits, and have seen lots of different sides of her. I have a lot of pride for my city, but it’s pretty messed up, no doubt about it. Nelson Algren seems to have the exact same feelings towards Chicago and perfectly summarizes the city’s character. I found myself startled and surprised by how accurate of a portrayal it gave of this place, even though this was written over sixty years ago.

“Big-shot town, small-shot town, jet-propelled old-fashioned town, by old-world hands with new-world tools built into a place whose heartbeat carries farther than its shout, whose whispering in the night sounds less hollow than its roistering noontime laugh: they have builded a heavy-shouldered laughter here who went to work too young.” Continue reading

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More than Half-Bored

Half Lost by Sally Green
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20814993I loved Half Bad, the first book in the trilogy. The second, Half Wild, was decent enough. But this? This was an exercise in willpower.

I think I started reading this book about three times before finally finishing, and even then it took an age to get through a measly 340 pages. All the edginess, the intensity I felt towards the the start of the trilogy, was wiped away only to leave behind an over-the-top narrator and an overarching conflict I no longer cared about.

Our main character was the main problem. One could make the claim that Nathan was the way he was due to all the trauma he experienced, but that sort of emotional baggage was never communicated, even though the narration is told through his perspective. He was full of hate and bitterness and thoughts of revenge, yet the emotional intensity had all the depth of a rain puddle. As a result, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about…anything. The battle, the romance, the revenge–I slogged through it all.

Though the last 30 pages or so certainly harkened back to the writing we start with in Half Bad, I still think the whole trilogy could have done with a happier ending. Not all sunshine and rainbows, to be sure, but more sweet and less bitter. That, I think, could have left me with a kinder sentiment to the trilogy as a whole, but now I just wish I had just stuck with the first and let the other two be.

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Journey into your Mind

The Road back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile
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In Junior H4619igh and High School, I loved taking those online quizzes that told you what Hogwarts House you belong to or what kind of salsa you are. Here I am, however many years later, and all that’s changed is that I’ve graduated to more reliable and credible personality models. I was all heart-eyes for the Myers Briggs, but in the past few months I’m all about the Enneagram, and this book is the perfect introduction to it.

I’ve learned about the Enneagram from podcasts and websites, but as far as books go, this is where you should start if you’re interested in learning more. At first glance it seems simple enough–your personality type is a number, 1 through 9. It can get complex real fast, though, and a lot of other books can get technical and a bit dull, so this one is definitely the place to start. There are chapters on each type, with thorough but engaging descriptions on their strengths and weakness, how they act in strength and security, and so on. It does include some connection to Christian teaching, but I think people of any religious background can feel comfortable picking this up.

Even if weren’t all gung-ho about personality quizzes like I was (am), you’ll still find plenty of benefit in reading up on this stuff. It will help you understand why people (both yourself and others) think and behave the way they do. Heck, it may even help you understand the happenings of our world, like what’s going on in politics and the news. Not a bad pay off for reaching the end of this little yellow book!

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Quick Takes: Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coatesfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

220px-between_the_world_and_meQuick Takes: In an effort to finally review some books I’ve read in the past year, I’m gonna throw these posts up on the blog in a shorter form. 

I feel silly even writing a short review of this book because in a way it feels absolutely unnecessary. Do you really need convincing to read this book considering the state of our world?

If you somehow are under the impression that there is no existing conflict in race relations and we all get along and sing Kumbaya on a global scale (if only), this book will hit you like an anvil coming down from the top of a skyscraper. If you study race relations like it’s your job, you will still find unrivaled narration of it within these pages. To both I say read it. It won’t be pleasant, but it’ll be good for you, I promise. Think of it as that cold medicine you took as a child. Continue reading

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Quick Takes: T re e of Co d e s

 

Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer
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11Quick Takes: In an effort to finally review some books I’ve read in the past year, I’m gonna throw these posts up on the blog in a shorter form. 

You’re never gonna come across another book like this.

It’s a book you’re gonna find on any book design blog, any place that covers innovation in the conventional paper book. I would say it’s worth reading just for that. Some complain that it’s not that original. That they could do it too. My response is (1) okay, do it, see if it’s anywhere near as easy as you make it out to be, and (2) he already beat you to making an actual book out of it, so yeah it is kind of original. It’s the same kind of argument used against modern art…what use is it? Continue reading

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