He Said/She Said (January 2021)

I’m pulling this series from the 2016 vault and reintroducing one of my very favorite things…

The book review.

I got out of the habit of reading the past few years (blaming Creighton for that one—he came into my life and suddenly doing anything with him was more fun than reading), but thanks to 2020 I had a lot of extra downtime and went back to my bookwormy ways.

So without further ado, my January reads…

“Yesterday I knew I had no future, and that it was impossible for me to accept my life as it is now. And yet today, that same messy life seems full of hope. Potential. The impossible, I suppose, happens via living.”

-“The Midnight Library”

“The Midnight Library” was the number one fiction book on Goodreads last year, so naturally I had to give it a shot. I’d label this book a mix of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, and I did love the heart behind the primary message of the novel. That being said, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen about 50 pages in. Though I did enjoy it, I wish there had been more depth to the protagonist’s story…or even a few final chapters that showed progression after her trip to the library. All in all, though, a nice story.

“You mistake love. You think it has to have a future in order to matter, but it doesn’t. It’s the only thing that does not need to become at all. It matters only insofar as it exists. Here. Now. Love doesn’t require a future.” 

-“IN five years”

I read somewhere that this book “tried really hard to be better than it was,” and I agree with that sentiment. The first half of “In Five Years” felt nearly identical to “One Day in December” by Josie Silver, but then it takes a deep dive into grief that leaves the reader confused and frankly, just plain ol’ sad. In the end, I didn’t like any of the characters and was angry at how the plot unfolded…but I did also cry at one point, so there’s that.

“Why was I crying so much? Because I think it finally dawned on me that I have a child who will never know her grandmother, the person who was the closest to me in the world. And I was about to start this journey with my daughter by myself without the help of my mother. …Then, I realized the one thing that would bridge all three of our lives was our faith, this intangible thing that had been passed on to me and that I would now pass on to my daughter. Somehow, through this ritual, I had transcended the impossible distance between me and my mom.”

-“Nothing like I imagined”

I am a huge fan of Mindy Kaling’s writing. It is her best professional talent, in my opinion, so I was thrilled when she released this series of essays. And though I did enjoy her other books better, these were still as charming as ever. The essay, “Help Is On The Way” where she described her on-going friendship with her daughter’s nurse was definitely my favorite!

Currently listening to “Sunday best” by Surfaces

He Said/She Said

Reading. One of the best pastimes—especially when you’re new to a city with nothin’ to do. That being said, August was a very book-heavy month for me. Some of my book conquests were great; others were awful; but all had at least one quote that I found interesting, funny, sweet, or inspiring. So, below I have an August book review, of sorts, where I highlighted the book and my favorite quote from each.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed


“I’d only wanted to be alone. Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was. The radical aloneness of the PCT had altered that sense. Alone wasn’t a room anymore, but the whole wide world, and now I was alone in that world, occupying it in a way I never had before. Living at large like this, without even a roof over my head, made the world feel both bigger and smaller to me. Until now, I hadn’t truly understood the world’s vastness.”

This was actually a “round two” read for me. I loved this book the first time I read through it and felt it would be a good adventure-starting read for me as I explored my new city of Dallas. The imagery in this book is beautiful, and I feel that it’s a very redemptive story. There are definitely some negative themes in this novel, so it might not be the right read for everyone, but I appreciated the honesty and vulnerability of Ms. Strayed. Plus, it made me want to go hiking.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell (all hail the Omaha girl)


“Neal didn’t take Georgie’s breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay—that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.” 

As a former Nebraskan, I was pretty excited to read this novel from Omaha native Rainbow Rowell. I had previously read Eleanore and Park, which was marketed as a teen/young adult book, but Landline is a bit more grown-up. It followed a week in the life of Georgie McCool (how great is that name?), a successful sitcom writer with a rocky marriage. Georgie is determined to get her relationship back on track, and she gets a little help from a magic phone that allows her to call the 1990s version of her husband. It may sound cheesy, but you guys, it was such a fun read. I highly recommend.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


“I’m only interested in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are part of the human race. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”

Confession: I started this book in January. I’d read a few pages, and then it would hang out on my nightstand for a while. Then I’d read a few more pages…then more nightstand time. I’ll be honest, it was kind of a bore. It reminded me of a story your old great uncle would tell around a campfire. (As I typed that last sentence, I realized that’s a super strange scenario. But I stand by it.) It was just OK in my opinion, but some people loved it, so to that I say, to each their own.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


“Sometimes Etienne comes down grumbling, one shoe on, and the whole kitchen goes quiet while Madame Manec fixes his tea and sets it on a tray and Etienne carries it back upstairs. Then the women start up again, scheming, gabbling. Madame Manec brushes Marie-Laure’s hair in long absentminded strokes. ‘Seventy-six years old,’ she whispers, ‘and I can still feel like this? Like a little girl with stars in my eyes?'”

Like The Alchemist, this one took me a while to get through. I must say, it is beautifully written. Mr. Doerr describes the settings and characters intricately and poetically, which helps the reader obtain a picture of that time and space. At times, though, the book was almost too detailed, losing the actual story in light of the flowery writing. It was also hard to keep up with the jumping around of years, and it seemed that the majority of the story began in the last 100 pages or so. Still, the main characters were so likable and brave, even in the midst of tragic circumstances, that I found myself cheering them on.

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller with Kathy Keller


“Within this Christian vision of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, ‘I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne.’ And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!’” 

I was initially embarrassed to read this book. I felt that, as a single woman, I would be viewed as pathetic or desperate if I read a book on marriage. But you know what? I think marriage is fascinating, and I think God’s design for marriage is fascinating, and I found this book, well, fascinating! It really was such a good read. I would recommend it to anyone—married, single, it’s complicated, etc. Because here’s the thing, it taught me a little about marriage, but it taught me a lot about God’s love for His children. It took me a while to get through The Meaning of Marriage, simply because I had to spend a lot of time processing Mr. Keller’s words (and all the Scripture that was found in the book), but I would read it again and think you should read it too.

So, there you go. I read one other book called The Vacationers, but there was no redeeming quotes or value in that one, so I left it off the list.


Currently listening to “A Very Good Tree” by Michael Giacchino