May Books

I am six books behind my coworker/reader buddy on the Goodreads 2018 reading challenge, but she’s retired and I’m not so I guess I’d better read a little faster. I still have time to get my 55 books in. I love historical fiction. I guess you can say I’ve been on a bit of a WWII kick lately.

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan– NYC pre WWII a young girl’s father disappears secondary to questionable mob activity. Fast forward to this young woman’s adulthood during WWII and her efforts to help the war, she discovers what happened to her father. I discovered this from Goodreads and thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a must read.

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard-1944 the lives of an 18 year old country girl, a Jewish physicist, a poor sharecropper girl, a wealthy army officer and an African American man intertwine as they work on the Manhattan Project. This was a good book but not one of my favorites.

That Month in Tuscany by Inglath Cooper. I saw this on Barnes and Noble’s recommendations and wanted to be in Italy in my head for a spell so I went for this book. A little predictable story about a woman married to a man that’s always disappointing her. She decided to go to Tuscany for their anniversary vacation by herself after he told her he can’t miss work. The book takes the woman on a journey of self discovery when she faces unexpected surprises. Meh it was ok. Nice to read about Italian culture and food.

Stay tuned for June and July.

Advertisements

April Books

Here I am on July 17 writing about the books I read in April. Lol oh well. It’s never too late to find a good book.

Hikertrash: Life on the Pacific Crest Trail by Erin Miller. It took me a few months to read this book. This is a personal account of a married couple who thru hiked the 2659mi Pacific Crest Trail 5 years ago. It was interesting but it was more like journal entries instead of actual chapters. When I started getting tired of it, I read other books and came back to it when I wanted an escape in my head.

Weekends at Bellevue by Julie Holland. This book is a true story and details the experience of the nine years Dr Julie Holland, a board-certified psychiatrist spent working in the psychiatric emergency room at Bellevue Hospital in NYC. If you are not medical and easily offended, don’t read this book. This is this woman’s personal EXPERIENCE. It is not to be judged or psychoanalyzed. I was extremely angered to read the very first review from 4 years ago listed on Goodreads and the several reviews that follow. The first review was written by a “psychology major and a human being”. All I can say is Bitch, don’t judge until you’ve walked in that person’s shoes.

I’m sorry but I have to stand on my soap box for a moment. I am a Board Certified Emergency Nurse with 13 years of Emergency Nursing under my belt. The general public has no idea of the experiences at work that we have on a daily basis that either harden our hearts, break our hearts or both. They have no idea how each one of us has experienced burn out at some point in our careers. Burnout that makes us feel like we are in an uncontrollable downward spiral as our own sanity circles the drain. Sure, burnout heals and can lay dormant for a spell until we have another experience that triggers it and then we pray that we don’t snap and circle the drain again. Burnout was one of the reasons I left the Emergency Room. The Emergency Room that I was able to refine my knowledge and skills as a registered nurse. The Emergency Room where my intuition came alive and I could tell someone was going bad by looking at them. The Emergency Room where I saw lives begin and end. The Emergency Room where I saw people bleed out and swallow their brains. The Emergency Room where I cleaned up more shit, piss, blood, snot and puke than I care to recall. The Emergency Room where I used to puke in the sink if the stench got to me too much. The Emergency Room where I was threatened with physical violence and sexually harassed on multiple occasions. The Emergency Room where hospital security frequently had to physically protect us when  there were dangerous patients that we had to sedate and restrain. The Emergency Room where I took care of murderers and rapists. The Emergency Room where I made lifelong friends. The Emergency Room that I shared weekends, holidays, and snowstorms with my ER family. The Emergency Room where we as staff shared each other’s triumphs and defeats. The Emergency Room that built a foundation for the rest of my career and gave me the confidence to try any other nursing afterwards. The Emergency Room that I was proud to work at. I remember shortly before I transferred out of the Emergency Room, one of the ER Attending Physicians said to me, “Nurses are lucky, they can leave when they want to and when they need to. Physicians have to stay.”

So I say, thank you Dr Julie Holland for sharing your experience.

The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve. I started reading this book years ago and returned it to the library unfinished because I wasn’t feeling it. Shortly before I read this book in April, I’d read Anita Shreve’s latest book and decided to give it another go. This book is about the after effects of the death of a Pilot who perished in a plane crash. The Pilot’s wife uncovers his secret life. It was good.

March Books

Here I am on June 9, 2018 writing about the books I read in March. Hey, what can I say, life gets in the way sometimes. We get into a routine, something disrupts it, we fall off the wagon, we get back on and keep going. Thanks to my handy, dandy Goodreads app on my phone, I’m able to pull up precisely which books I read. For one of my followers who likes to remark about my strange ability to recall dates, yes, I have the dates.

Before I begin, I have to share something significant to March. March 1; the start of spring high school sports.  My daughter is now in the final days of her sophomore year of high school. In track she’s a sprinter and ran JV for a second year. March 28, 2018 was the first track meet of the season. I stood in the rain and watched her run her first 100M relay of the year. She came from behind and closed the gap for her team with so much finesse and grace and walked off the track having beat her time from last year, feeling on top of the world. My hands were wet and cold and I couldn’t get my phone’s camera activated in time but I don’t need a camera to remember that run. It was priceless and only the beginning of a season that she showed so much growth and potential as she prepares to run varsity next year.

Did I have my nook at the track meet? You bet your ass I did!

1. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline. This book was written by the author who wrote Orphan Train. This book takes place in Coastal Maine. The main character Christina, who’s family was descendants of Nathanial Hawthorne,  is the subject of a painting. The painting speaks of the subject’s simple yet complicated life. This book was by no means as powerful as Orphan Train was.

2. The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips. This book made my heart ache for the main character. Violence and cruelty, these things really happen in families. They did then and they do now. Although there are many more rights now for abused children than there were in the 1950’s, society still turns the other cheek. Sometimes we just don’t know what goes on in people’s homes. It takes place in rural Georgia in the late 1950’s. Tangy, an African American teenager is torn between remaining loyal to her crazy mother or taking the opportunity to change her life. A heart wrenching read.

3. Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center. Switching gears a little here. The main character Helen, with no survival skills or wilderness knowledge,  has an opportunity to spend three weeks on a wilderness hike in Wyoming. Reading books like this is always an inspiration and I’m happy I read it.

4. The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve. This book is a historical fiction about the summer long drought fires that take place on the coast of Maine in 1947. The story focuses on the main character Grace’s struggle, with the fires. Struggles to keep her family safe and endure the drama and pain her husband causes her. It was a good read and I couldn’t put it down. Days later, this author passed away.

So that’s it for March. Stay tuned for April and May.

February Books

February went by like a flash because I read so many great books and one not so great one. My 2018 reading challenge is moving along at a nice pace and I am pleased. One of my favorite past times is escaping into a book. Here we go.

Books 1 and 3: The Road to Grace (The Walk #3) and A Step of Faith (The Walk #4) by Richard Paul Evans. Richard Paul Evans. This series is about a man who loses everything an sets off to walk across the country. At the end of each book Richard Paul Evans drops a literary bomb in the last few pages and leaves you hurrying up to download the next one so you can find out what happens. This series has not disappointed me. I haven’t read book 5 yet because I’m not ready to let this story go yet.

Book 2: The Address by Fiona Davis. This book was recommended to me by one of my reader buddy fellow nurse coworkers. This book is a historical fiction about The Dakota in New York City. It goes back and forth between the late 1800’s and 1985 where a young woman uncovers information about her family while renovating an apartment in the building. Wow just wow. This is a book I thought about periodically throughout my day when I wasn’t reading it. I couldn’t put this down. The ending was a pleasant surprise.

Book 4: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. This is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read probably 12 of her books over the past 14 years. I had the privilege of meeting her back in October when she gave a talk at a local university, (my BSN Alma Mater) about her book The Nightingale. The Great Alone takes place in the Alaska wilderness in the mid 1970’s, when a Vietnam Vet moves his family there to start a new life. This book was intense, powerful writing. I’d highly recommend.

Book 5: White Houses by Amy Bloom. Disclosure first. I am not in any way shape or form prejudice against the LGBTQ community. This book is a fictionalized account of the “first friend” relationship that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had with female reporter Lorena Hickok. I had high hopes for this book. I enjoy history and details about real people in history. Maybe it was a post Great Alone and The Address depression and with drawl I was in but this book just didn’t do it for me. It was difficult to follow in some parts and it dragged on too long. Sorry.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back with a review of my March books in April. I’ve got some good ones lined up.

 

 

 

41 Books and More

A few years ago I downloaded the Goodreads application onto my iPhone. Goodreads allows readers to track and rate books with other readers. I used it for a few months but found it tedious to to try to remember all the books I’ve read in my lifetime of reading, search for them and put them on my list of read books. Eventually I got bored with it and stopped using it. I had considered deleting the application from my phone but I never did.

On New Years Day I noticed on Facebook that a Goodreads friend and coworker of mine had joined the 2017 Reading Challenge. “Hmm, why not”, I thought so I joined the challenge and committed to reading 41 books this year. Two days ago I finished my first book of the 2017 reading challenge.

The book, “The Secret Keeper” by Kate Morton was selected for my book club’s January meeting. If you like books with secrets from the past, this is a book for you. Like every good book I read, I found myself thinking about the book during my work day and looking forward to evening reading time. I savored every chapter and the way the author kept me guessing until the very end. As I always do at the end of a good book, I felt a sense emptiness because I had completed the book. Ironically, I’d been thinking about reading this book for a few years but never really committed myself to it because the summary kind of interested me but didn’t dazzle me until someone in my book club suggested it. That’s the benefit being part of a book club. My book club has nine personalities. Eventually you’ll read books you may not have thought about reading but are really happy you did.

The second book of my 2017 Reading Challenge is “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shutterly. I went to see the movie last weekend at a historic movie theater in my city which was the perfect place for this movie. Ordinarily I’d prefer to read the book before seeing the movie but when my husband found out the movie would be at this really cool old theater, we jumped at the chance to go. Once the movie began I knew immediately that I wanted to read this book. One of my book club friends joined us at the movie that night. A few days later we were both owners of the book.

I’ve owned a Barnes and Noble Nook for over four years now. I’ve enjoyed the convenience of carrying multiple books on one device when I go on vacation and instantly, sometimes impulsively downloading a book the minute I decided I want to read it. Some people fly by the seats of their pants. I read by the seat of my pants. When I want to read a book, I want to read it right now, not when the library or bookstore has it available and not when I can find time to get there to go pick it up. Sometimes I miss holding a book though. Holding a book, studyng the cover and touching the pages feels more personal to me. So lately I’ve been going to the library or buying the actual book instead of downloading it.

Hidden Figures is sitting to the left of me on my desk as I write this. It is in paperback and I enjoy moving my fingertips over the smooth surface of the cover. The colors appeal to me. I hate to judge a book by it’s cover but sometimes it’s the cover of the book that draws me to the book when I am in a bookstore. I look at the faces of the women on the cover of the book. These actresses did such a wonderful job portraying the women this movie is about. I look forward to opening the book, reading the words, putting myself into the time period of this book and losing myself.

For all you lifetime readers out there, which book will you read next?

Hiking Through

The Appalachian Trail is only something that has recently entered my subconscious mind. I’d heard people mention it but never really gave it another thought because I was unaware of it’s significance. One day while we hiking our favorite trail, my husband told me about this couple he knew of when we were in our 20’s (friends of a friend)  who were going to take several months off to hike the Appalachian Trail right after they got married. They’d spent months planning, preparing, buying gear and taking practice hikes. Four months before their wedding, the groom dumped the bride and the hike was cancelled.

Curious about the significance of the Appalachian Trail I decided to look for a book.  I downloaded a book onto my nook entitled “Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on The Appalachian Trail” by Paul V. Stutzman. The author of this book tells the story of how he lost his wife to cancer. After his wife died he continued to work at the restaurant he’d spent his entire career at until he realized he couldn’t do it anymore. In just two months he planned his hike and headed to Georgia to do the Georgia to Maine 2176 mile 300 mountain hike on the Appalachian Trail. His reason for this hike was to work through his grief and find his purpose again.

The author openly discussed his wife’s illness, his childhood, past and his regrets. He’s a deeply religious man and his relationship with God was a strong influence throughout this experience. In the book he stated that hiking the AT “mirrored his spiritual journey” as he sought out the gift of hope and new life. His descriptions of nature, the people he encountered along the way, the culture of the AT, his struggles on the trail, what he learned and his conversations with God left me feeling fulfilled when he completed the AT hike. I read this book last week. I loved it and absolutely could.not.put.it.down. It made me feel good and gave me great admiration for those who have hiked through the AT.

Spiritual Journey? Physical Challenge? Long distance hike? Nature? Count me in! I’m putting this on my bucket list. I told my husband about this book and asked him if he’d be interested in hiking the AT. He quickly said yes. I don’t know how or when this will materialize for us but I do know the universe will present it to us at the appropriate time. Until then, it’s research and lots of practice hikes. I’ll be in the woods if anyone is looking for me.

 

 

 

When You Can’t

There’s a load of laundry in the dryer that needs to be folded and a load in the washer that needs to be moved to the dryer but I can’t do that. I can’t get out of my chair because my can’t put my book down.

When I am reading a good book it’s as if my mind has left the physical world and stepped into a different world, leaving my body as a shell with eyes that look up from time to time. I become so engrossed that I can no longer hear the sounds of my own environment or what’s going on around me. A building could fall down around me and I wouldn’t notice. Today my family senses that I have again been entranced by a good book so they finish their breakfast, clean up their dishes and go about their day. I am still there reading my book.

It’s a sunny day with a clear blue sky and I know I should be outside but I can’t go. My mind is paralyzed. I can’t put my book down. My husband asks, “Are we going hiking or not”. I know I need to go hiking because stepping into the woods has lately become my way of recharging my battery in preparation for the week to come. The walls are closing in on me now and I begin to have a small panic that no one else can see. Do I put my book down and go hiking or just keep reading?

Ordinarily I would just trudge through the book and be done with it so I can rejoin my own world but today I did put the book down. It was becoming violent and I needed to process what was going on. Plus I couldn’t take my hike away from myself.

My daughter couldn’t go hiking because she’s studying for finals so I went hiking with my husband and son. Each of us entered the woods with our minds full of whatever. As we hiked, we allowed the sound of the breeze through the trees, the flowing river, dirt, sweat, bugs, rocks, climbing over branches, crossing rivers, dipping our feet in the river, steep climbs and green all around us, nature;  wash the whatever out of our heads.

I can’t speak for my husband and son but I emerged from the woods with a mind a peace. I came home and finished my book.

The book I couldn’t put down today was: Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson