The Return to Reading

Almost a year ago, I announced that I was beginning to read again now that I’ve emerged from the fog of infant and toddler years. At that time, my readers responded with an insane amount of good book recommendations. I’m happy to report that I have read the following since then (and probably some more that I forgot to record.  I put an asterisk by the ones I enjoyed the most.):

The History of Joseph Smith by His Mother  




















The Help*

Kathryn Stockett

I obviously haven’t made a ton of progress, but I’m ready to really dig in to your suggestions this year. Matt got me a Kindle for Christmas, and I really love it. My favorite thing about it is easy one-handed reading while I’m all tucked in to my bed covers. Anyway, I’ve made a list from your recommendations of 49 books I’d like to read. Do you think it’s possible I can read them all in 2011?! My goal* is to at least start all of them. Despite my undying trust in your taste, I’m a super picky reader and sometimes things turn me off that don’t bother other people. However, I want to at least give them all a chance, even if I decide partway through that they’re not for me. You can click here to see my list of books I want to read, courtesy of YOU.

*by “goal,” I mean I really want to try.  I’m not going to freak out if  I don’t finish the whole list, but I bet I get a lot more read this year just by trying.

Do you have any must-reads to add to the list that you’ve read in the last year?  Keep in mind my picky criteria:  I’m kind of a book prude (hate blatant sexuality, especially sexual violence, or casual coming-of-age experimentation, as well as child abuse or crass language) and I try to steer clear of dark, brooding, or depressing literature (Seriously, I get discouraged for days just from reading sad news headlines).


31 thoughts on “The Return to Reading

  1. Hey girl! Great list. I would like to read The Alchemist as well.

    Ok, so I just have to tell you. I will be quoting you (yet again) in a talk I have to give in Stake Conference. That ok with you?

  2. Nice list! I’m looking forward to the day when I can “return to reading”…I’m not sure that I was ever “there” actually. 🙂 I’m surprised that you liked The DaVinci Code…that book kind of made my stomach turn for some reason…I think my imagination was too vivid during certain scenes! 🙂

  3. You’ve got a great list…. I loved The Hiding Place too. Another war book that is on my favorites list is The Pianist. Great, great story. I feel like I’ve said this before? Maybe so.

    There are lots on your list I want to read too. I feel like I need to save it as a reference.

  4. I liked your list of “To Read” books. I loved “These is My Words” when I read it. I also really liked “With Malice Toward None”. I am just about 100 pages away from finishing Les Miserables – it took me a really long time – not one you should read when there are distractions near by. I don’t recommend you read the “Four Pillars of the Earth” by Follet. I read it for a book club about 6 years ago. I wasn’t as picky about books then, but it had some terrible scenes, including one rape scene that left me feeling sick to my stomach. I don’t remember much about the book except that it was one I felt I shouldn’t have read.

  5. Hey there – I love your list, I have actually read a whole bunch of them, I really enjoyed most of the ones I’ve read, a few not so much. I can’t beleive you haven’t read Gone With the Wind – HELLO!!!! Put that next on your list. Probably some of the best writing ever. I still go back and re-read my favorite passages often, I even made Jim read it (he hated it). My son DJ put a different cover on it and would take it to school because he couldn’t stand to leave it at home. Funny. I can’t wait to hear some of your thought on the books, reading is a solitary pursuit, it is always fun to hear other opinions. Take care!!

  6. I’ll have to think about some book recommendations for you…. I really enjoyed “Seeing Things” from Patti Hill, nothing too profound I guess, but a good read. (and clean)

    Stephanie, can I just say… you are AWESOME!! Thank you for standing up for what is right. I LOVE your last paragraph. It is VERY good to be picky when it comes to books… you are NOT a prude in any way… I think other people try to convince themselves “it’s literature, it’s from Oprah’s book club, my “so and so” read it, so it’s OKAY” but it’s not okay… We need to be so careful about what we put into our heads. I agree 100% I’m going to choose from your list.

  7. My suggestion is a little different but meets all of your criteria for a decent book with no ickies. The Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour. He is an engaging author and sucks you in. Just an idea.

  8. Can you believe there are actually people out there who DON’T like reading? I can’t imagine my life without a book on my bedstand. True, there are weeks that go by when I can’t keep my eyes awake long enough to read, but that trusty novel is there waiting for when I need it.

    So glad you read The Chosen; I loved it, as well.

  9. I was surprised when I finally started reading again (after college books-and at the same time toddlers it took me a while to remember I liked it) how quickly I devoured my books. I bet esp with your kindle you’ll get through all of them! How exciting. I have a goal to read 50 this year too!

    I haven’t read many on your list but enjoyed These is My Words (not so much the sequel though, Sarahs Quilt). Also Princess Academy is fun!

    Also I’m just like you. I really dislike dark and depressing literature. I just can’t handle reading bout it, feeling those sad awful thoughts and having those thoughts be in the fore front of my mind. Yay for reading!

    Look up these and see if any interest you. They’re light, good reads (to me). Matched (Ally Condie), Courting Miss Lancaster (Sarah M Eden), Lemon Tart (Josi Kilpack)

  10. I like your criteria. Same as mine.

    I like all of Shannon Hale’s books – but I have it on good authority NOT to read “The Actor and the Housewife.” I’m passing it on to you.

    I’ll second “The Help” and add “Prayers for Sale.” Tell me how you like The Hiding Place -that’s on my list.

    I just finished Les Miserables and I LOVED it – though it took me four months to get through. (But seriously – new favorite …)

    Do you like science fiction? I loved Elantris and the Mistborn series. Mistborn can get a little violent, but I pretty much just skipped those sections. And I tend to be forgiving when I love the plot. ;o) (Also – the third Mistborn book is LADEN with awesome gospel stuff. Awesome, I tell you.)

    And what about oldies-but-goodies like The Three Musketeers or David Copperfield? Pretty much anything by Dickens is okay with me …

  11. okay, I have to say I LOVED “The Hiding Place” as well. “The Count of Monte Cristo” is great too.

    I really enjoyed the “Fablehaven” series, but I LOVE science fiction/fantasy, only YOUNG ADULT, that is. The Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy is usually full of yuck.

    I read all three books in the “series” by Nancy Turner (“These is my words”, “Sarah’s Quilt”, and “Star Garden”) — while I was totally sucked into the story and I’m embarrassed to admit I couldn’t put them down; if I were to recommend these books to a friend, they are a bit depressing… I found myself CRYING uncontrollably a few times. Some might say it’s real life, but it was too sad.

    Also, I don’t know if I would consider it “blatant sexuality”, but a few parts made me blush and I wished I hadn’t read it!! Just wanted to let you know.

  12. YES to The Mysterious Benedict Society. Also to The View from Saturday. Both YA, so quicker reads but so very good. I often wonder if preteens and teenagers realize the goldmine of literature that’s waiting for them in a library; it can be hard to find (without someone leading you through) when you have to sift through the less desirable books first.

  13. Great list! Many of those books are on my to-read list this year too. 🙂 (Not that I will read that many – I am a slow reader and there are way too many interruptions around here.) I got a Kindle for my birthday, and LOVE it, especially all the classics you can read for FREE. Good luck with your goals!

  14. I think the Kindle is one of the best things EVER. I love that I have the equivalent of a stack of books in my purse wherever I go.

    I’m sure you noticed that everything published before 1923 is free to download- yay for public domain!

    But if you check Amazon now and then, they have other books, some bestsellers, available for free also and some of my favorite reads ended up coming from among the ones I tried just because they were free. One was The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen, I thought it was just charming. Another good & free one was The Vanishing Man by Richard Austin Freeman, it was a mystery/love story that I couldn’t put down (even to pack so we could move!). I’m particular about things being both clean and interesting, too- I usually get online to download things to the Kindle so I can read reviews and decide if I really want to try a book or not.

    And I love your blog. I know I’m not alone in my mommy-trials, but it’s so heartening to read your inspiring and comforting words!

  15. There are some of my books on here! OH, I hope you don’t think less of me after you’ve read them . . .

    I will say this: I’m pretty sure “The PIllars of the Earth” was my recommendation, and your earlier commenter was right: there are some harrowing scenes in it that are graphically violent. But the events they depict advance the plot necessarily. While the detail was more than I could stomach in places, I found it easy to skip over and was absolutely struck by the scale of subject matter covered in the book. It was extremely well-researched and I learned so much about how cathedrals were built, how a monastery was run, how cathedrals were financed (wow, makes you grateful for honestly-come-by tithing), how the wool trade worked — and I loved, loved, loved the characters who, yes, are flawed, and yes, do not always make the best choices, but they were real to me and I loved the book, and so did my mom, the Stake RS President. And I also still have a temple recommend.

    But it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t feel the same way!

  16. I’m not so much into fiction these days, so all of the books I have read in 2011 have been incredible non-fiction books! I’ve decided to keep a book log on my blog – mainly for me – to see how many books (and what tpe of books) I’ll read this year. Come take a look and see if you like any of them!!

  17. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. We’ve got it on our book club schedule for this year and I think I’m looking forward to it more than any other one. When I saw the other one in your list about Abraham Lincoln (“With Malice Toward None” I believe is the title?) I thought of this one.

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