2016: Recycled Reads Review

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Bikurgurl 2016, Science Reading Love

I began this challenge in April 2016, but love the idea of doing with what you have — reading that treasure trove of books on my shelves. I had purchased, or been gifted, all of the books on my list — and there they languished in piles and on bookshelves eagerly awaiting my attention.

Here is the list again:

And here is my overview of the challenge:

I was rather thrilled to have the opportunity to challenge myself to reading more. These reads aren’t something that someone else chose, I chose each of these books to either be — or remain — on my bookselves.

When I went to my childhood home this summer, I was able to find even more piles of books — like that stack of Science books from elementary school {and rocks….boxes and buckets of rocks…everywhere!} I snagged at book sales, library sales, and garage sales of my youth. I read voraciously as a child, not unlike my bibliophile son, I read practically anything I could get my hands on.

Science was always a passion — I happily read all of those science books in the stack!

Maybe not all the others…

However, there were so many books I hadn’t read — whether I wasn’t aware of them, they weren’t on a reading list required in school, or they held interest to me as adult {and not as a child}, but I felt like I was missing out. So many classics, new and vintage, I’d not broken into reading.

So when the idea of taking a stack of 12 books for 2016 came along — and reading those

Bikurgurl 2016, Recycled Reads 2016

books I already owned — I was thrilled. I didn’t have to worry about the homeschooling mother walk of shame, turning in late library books with fines galore: I could read at my own pace. These were books in my home, covering my shelves; books I had selected, or kept, with the intention to read.

Intention without a plan is much like that addage: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.

I had my physical stack of books that I kept together on a shelf all year. Whereas I usually read only nonfiction for pleasure reading, I mixed in many fictional classics with my list. I thought it would really be a stretch for me to read those as I eagerly enjoyed the nonfiction.

However, something changed for me this year. Had I not started this challenge, it may have been years before I really rediscovered my love of nonfiction, as well as fiction. I have been reading books to prepare for homeschooling my boys, parent, and learn new skill sets — I had totally forgotten that I really love a variety of books! I had gotten myself in a rut, but my higher self knew that these juicy reads would feed my soul.

So without further ado, a quick rundown of my Recycled Reads List 2016:

I devoured The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” target=”_blank”>The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. A book recommended by a friend, it was a riveting account of a woman, her family, her community, and how her death produced life saving cells still used to this day — but without the knowledge or consent of her family. Due to it’s content regarding cancer, and my own cancer diagnosis, I read it hungrily. Twice. I cannot recommend this book enough. It changed how I felt about the world, my cancer, and reigniting my passion for social justice.

Books recommended by my mother were books she sent me as she read through her own expansive book collection. My mother also orders books from Better World Books, which touts keeping old books out of landfills and donating more to boot. She loves to get old tomes, particularly paperbacks from her youth, to reread and to pass along to an aunt who is mostly home bound. The paperbacks that don’t make it to my aunt, make their way to me.

My Mother, 1972

My mother sent me All Creatures Great and Small” target=”_blank”>All Creatures Great and Small – which I thought would be totally hokey, but it turned out to be a really wonderfully uplifting period story of a recent graduate of veterinarian studies. Set at the turn of the century, this charming tale of quick wit, learning curve, and finding true passion turned me around with reading more lighthearted works.

Period novels with historical reference always interest me, so choosing to read The Good Earth (Oprah’s Book Club)” target=”_blank”>The Good Earth next was a no brainer. Being on the MENSA List for grades 9-12, I would eventually read it anyway. I am so happy I chose to read it now. A story of triumph and sorrow for this man growing up and raising a family during the Chinese revolution. Heartwrenchingly raw at times, the characters were largely unrepentant for their choices. Particularly the protagonist. Moving on all levels.

Bikurgurl 2016, a la Coraline

My favorite books were those recommended to me by son, the Bibliophile.  The Phantom Tollbooth” target=”_blank”>The Phantom Tollbooth and A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet)” target=”_blank”>A Wrinkle in Time and turned out to be two of his favorite he’d read several times and couldn’t believe I’d never experienced them. I proceeded with trepidation since they, being fantasy fiction are not at the top of my interest list, but I really loved them both! For me, they reminded me of the wonder and love I had for the The Chronicles of Narnia” target=”_blank”>The Chronicles of Narnia – which I wasn’t introduced to until I was a senior in college for my Great Works class. Although they were not at all the same, it elicited the same feeling of fun and adventure – of being a child – in just a couple hours of reading.

Surprisingly, the biggest stretch for me was reading the second book in the Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)” target=”_blank”>Harry Potter series: Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets” target=”_blank”>The Chamber of Secrets. When these books were written, I was not reading much for pleasure. I was working several jobs to pay back student loans as I was a recent graduate. I missed the whole Harry Potter craze and instead, doing what I never do, watched the movies before I read the books.

The movies are amazing! Not surprisingly, my son wasn’t a huge fan of the movies after reading the books. I, however, LOVED the movies. We purchased the entire series on Vudu in a bundle with our entertainment budget one month last year. Of my family, my bibliophile was the only one not loving the movies. The rest of us, on the other hand, loved them and have watched the series a few times as movie nights picks!

While the book certainly is different from the movie, it gave me the details lacking in the movie. I understood why my son was so disappointed with the movie after reading the book, but I feel that way about most of the books I read made into movies.

Books I’m still reading:

There is only one book I’m currently still reading on the list: Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution” target=”_blank”>Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I discovered Brene’s books last year while flipping through the Costco Connections magazine and decided to pick up her previous book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” target=”_blank”>The Gifts of Imperfection. It was a witty, wonderfully short read. I re-read it several times, highlighted passages, and had some big take aways. Naturally, I eagerly awaited the release of this new book and have been working my way through it. Again, with highlighter and notebook in hand, I’m loving her encouragement to just be yourself, let things go, and allow more grace and space into your life. I look forward to getting back into this one.

As for the books that didn’t get read:

The next book after Henrietta Lacks would have naturally been Boundaries: A Casebook in Environmental Ethics” target=”_blank”>Boundaries: A Casebook in Environmental Ethics, and I did. But I left it at home one day when I went out with my boys, and I have yet to pick it back up. I will in 2017. I think.

I lent out the C.S. Lewis book, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life” target=”_blank”>Surprised by Joy, and have not yet received it back. I will be asking for it back, or borrowing it, in the New Year. I’ve started reading Mere Christianity” target=”_blank”>Mere Christianity as I awaited the book. It’s actually really great, but I take it to weekly music lessons my children have — and as they took a break from music this fall, I’m still reading it. I’ve actually been highlighting a lot in that book as there are so many nuggets for living. It’s really fantastic. I look forward to reading more about Lewis’ childhood recollections in this short book. My whole reason for picking up C.S. Lewis nonfiction reads is because I keep reading reviews, and references in other books, to his great wisdom. I wanted to read that wisdom in it’s original context, first-hand.

The other books recommended I didn’t even pick up:

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life” target=”_blank”>Boundaries, recommended by the wife of one of my husband’s co-workers after I sent her The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” target=”_blank”>The Gifts of Imperfection, and How to Be an Imperfectionist: The New Way to Self-Acceptance, Fearless Living, and Freedom from Perfectionism” target=”_blank”>How To Be An Imperfectionist,  recommended by my husband; these two books are still sitting on the shelf.  I imagine I will read both in the coming year, but didn’t make the cut in 2016. These recommendations were born from my need to emerge stronger through my cancer recovery.

Thankfully, I’ve had a very supportive family and community, both on-line and in real life, as I continue to recovery both physically and mentally from my diagnosis through recovery. This blog was also born from my need to help my recovery – which it certainly has!

I can’t wait to gather my books and post my 2017 Recycled Reads!!

Thanks again to Prabhat, of Dancing with Mosquitos, for introducing me to, and encouraging me, to do it – Recycled Book Reading Challenge! You can find the original challenge here!

 What has been languishing on your bookshelf, eagerly awaiting for it’s story to be read?


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