Five Books I Recommended to a Non-Reader

This was my video topic for this week, but I decided that I’d better express myself through a written post.

I typically don’t recommend books. It doesn’t matter who is asking or why, but I’ve made exceptions to my rule over the last couple of years. The following is the most recent example.

Earlier this week a friend of mine told me he wanted to start reading in an effort to adopt more healthy habits. With all the things one can do with free time, I think reading would definitely qualify as a healthy habit. What did I do when he told me this? I took him to Half Price Books, of course! Not kidding.

The first thing I did when we reached the store was ask him what he enjoys reading. His response was anything that keeps his attention, he’s open to any topic. So I did the only thing I could do in that situation, I referred back to my own reading history. Kind of like your Google history in books. I came up with five books to tell him about.

Lone Survivor – Marcus Luttrell

No matter your position on war or the military, I’m well aware that nonfiction war books are not for everyone. But to say this book is only about war would be a disservice to Marcus Luttrell and every other man who died during the operation to save him and his fellow Navy SEALs. This book is about faith, family, survival, life and death, and yes, war. Most people living today will never know what it means to trust another person with your life and have them entrust you with theirs. The men described in this book are the best the United States has to offer, and their story is one to remember.

Unstoppable – Bill Nye

I’ve read a few hundred books during my lifetime, and this one (like I said here) is easily the best book I’ve read. It’s science. Another type of book that simply isn’t for everyone. But this book isn’t written for scientists. That would defeat the entire purpose. The book takes on climate change, one of those topics that people seem to want to give up on or kick down the road. But not Bill Nye, nope. The reason this book holds so much weight with me is because of the optimism. Bill Nye is part of the generation currently in power. It’s his generation that has moved technology further than ever before, but it’s this same generation that has gotten us to this point in the climate change debate. This isn’t about blame, it’s about what’s happened. The beauty of this book is that Bill Nye recognizes who will ultimately enact the necessary changes to really combat climate change and begin the the process of preserving our planet for generations to come. Millennials. That group of young adults who gets blamed for things completely out of their control. It’s that same group of young people who are more aware of current issues than just about any generation of people who have come before them. Some would say the issues aren’t as important as the ones previous generations have had to tackle, but to say this is to once again belittle the issues Millennials face today. Humans are imperfect, but we have the ability to preserve this beautiful world we have. I believe history will hold Millennials in particularly high regard when humans look back at who decided enough was enough and that the issue of climate change is not something to leave for others to deal with.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Atticus Finch. I can go on and on about Atticus Finch. I’ll be short and simple. I recommended this book because even when everyone around you is guilty of buying into society’s backward and wrong beliefs, one person can stand up for what’s right and what’s true to the human spirit. That’s what I believe Atticus did in this book, and it’s an idea still relevant after nearly 60 years in print.

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

With social media today we’re able to get a glimpse into the lives of persecuted individuals. Anne Frank’s diary is more than just a glimpse. It’s her life. Now that I’m sitting here writing this I realize that her diary is her version of a blog or Facebook account. Through her words we know what a young girl and her family endured during humanity’s darkest hour. She gives us an idea of what it means to be unwanted, untouchable, and hated. She shows us that we always have the ability to be kind, even when facing the worst of circumstances. Another book that has never lost its relevance.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Society has expectations for just about everyone. It’s up to the individual person and the people they’re surrounded by to stick to what they’re supposed to be doing or to exceed every expectation imaginable. That’s what this book is about. And that’s why I recommended it. In this world the districts are expected to contribute to the welfare of the Capitol by maintaining the status quo and doing as previous generations have done. There’s really no avenue for any individuality. Katniss turns the whole thing upside down. She proved that no matter what society expects of you, you can use your voice to accomplish and change just about anything.

An honorable mention was Elie Wiesel’s Night.

I won’t tell you which book he ultimately decided to buy, but he did buy one.

So those are the books I recommended to an admitted non-reader. I took several minutes to describe the message I took away from each one. This wasn’t a planned thing and I did the whole thing in real time, but I think the books I mentioned shed light on the topics and issues important to me. Every one of these is a notch above their counterparts in my eyes.

Sorry for the LONG post! Have you ever had to suddenly recommend books and felt it was more important than a typical recommendation? What do you think of the books I came up with?

Anne Frank Fund Causes Uproar

The Anne Frank Fund holds the copyright to Anne’s diary. They use the funds they receive from the book sales to support charitable organizations around the world. But no one is talking about those efforts right now.

The copyright to her book is set to expire throughout most of Europe on January 1, 2016. Which means the book would be in the public domain and any organization or publisher could publish it. So the organization is saying that Otto Frank, her father, is actually a co-author. This move will extend the copyright many years.

I have two thoughts on this. First, I don’t think for one second that Otto Frank is the co-author of anything. Second, I have an issue with copyright law as it stands today.

What I don’t understand is why copyright law only extends a set number of years after the creator’s death. Why do great works need to eventually become part of the public domain? They’d still be widely available. And usually very cheap. I think my copy of Anne’s diary cost me like $4. Would we read Shakespeare significantly less if his works weren’t in the public domain? Would certain classics like Dracula or Frankenstein or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn be less read and recognized if not in the public domain? I don’t think so.

So while everyone else wants to say it’s a money grab by the organization, I won’t. This is one of the most widely read books ever, and I have no issue with those who own the copyright trying to hang on to it as long as possible.

What do you think?

My 2014 Reading Biography

AKA the books I read this year.

Honestly, I’m not sure that “reading biography” is a thing that people say, but I saw it on another post and I’m stealing it. How about we make it catch on and then eventually everyone who reads this blog will be able to say they had a hand in a new tag/meme on WordPress. I can see it now.

“Hey guys, this is my reading biography. As started over at Write me a Book, John!”

Maybe? Anyway, this is going to be a much shorter post than I’d have hoped at the start of the year. I’m pretty sure you know by now that my goal each year is to read 50 books. I think it’s a nice round number that’s definitely attainable, considering I read 44 a couple years ago in just seven months. Guess how close I got? Just guess. I’ll wait.

Hurry up.

Okay. Time’s up. I read…seven books! SO close to my goal! Not. It was a terrible reading year. I mean, how can I even say I’m a reader with that kind of number? It’s really disappointing and there’s no explanation. I’m just a loser. Here’s the mediocre list anyway. And I’m even going to post the date I finished each one so you really get an idea how bad it really was.

1. Valediction (Spenser #11) – Robert B. Parker – January 1

2. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank – March 7

3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) – JK Rowling – March 13

4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl – March 26

5. London Bridges (Alex Cross #10) – James Patterson – April 12

6. The Fault in our Stars – John Green – June 12

7. The Drop (Harry Bosch #15) – Michael Connelly – June 21

Pages Read: 2193

Reading Time: 36:07

Series Books: 4

Authors: 7

Amazon 100 Books: 4

That’s it. That’s all there is to know from what I read in 2014. This means I’ve read a whopping 22 books since January 1, 2013! What am I doing!? No. 2015 will be better. I know it.

How was your 2014 reading year? It couldn’t have been any worse than mine.

The Best of 2014: Books I read

I began this series of posts yesterday by telling y’all about the best bloggers I know. Today we’re going to talk about the best books I read in 2014. Although not over yet, it’ll be my worst reading year since high school. I’ve only made it through seven books. Seven. Oh well. But there were some standouts among those seven that I do want to talk about. Remember these are NOT books released in 2014 but books I read in 2014.

#1 The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

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I read this book as part of my journey to read every book on Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This isn’t really a book. It’s her diary, as you well know. And maybe that’s why it really hit me like it did. She takes you through every emotion imaginable and she does so in such an eloquent manner that you can’t help but be impressed by her grasp of the written word. She’s able to take you back to one of the worst periods the world has ever known, and she does it while in hiding. It’s a remarkable work that everyone should read.

I currently have this book ranked #1 on my list of the best books I’ve ever read. There’s no doubt that it will stay there for some time. Here’s the post I wrote the day after finishing it.

#2 The Drop (Harry Bosch #15) – Michael Connelly

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Michael Connelly is right near the top of my favorite authors and I’ve never once been disappointed by one of his Bosch novels. The Drop is no exception. Bosch is working two cases at once. One is the death of a city councilman’s son and the other is a cold case. That’s all I’ll say. It’s vintage Bosch and I already have the next book in the series on my shelf.

I currently have this book ranked #13 on my list of the best books I’ve ever read. One spot ahead of the third and final book on the list.

#3 The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

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I don’t need to tell you anything about this book because you’ve probably already read it and made up your own mind about the story itself. This was the first time I’d read any YA title since Mockingjay in 2012. I really enjoyed this book. Yeah I thought Gus was too perfect and I thought the way he talked to Hazel was a little too much for a couple of teens, but those are pretty minor things. I loved them both as characters and John Green got millions of people to read about a tricky subject.

I currently have this book ranked #14 on my list of the best books I’ve ever read. Here’s the post I wrote about it earlier this year.

So that’s it! Those are the three best books I read this year! Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone just missed being included in the list. I won’t ask if you’ve read these titles because you’ve almost certainly read at least two of them, but I would like to know what your top reads of the year were. Tell me now.

The Books That Have Stayed With Me

Don’t worry, I’m not going tell you about ten books that have stayed with me. Cause I don’t think I have ten, or five even. But in the name of kinda sorta not really participating in this little Facebook tag that seems to have sprung up out of nowhere, I’m going to talk about it.

I’ve just read an article that states that Facebook has determined the book included the most in responses to the tag is…can you guess it? I could have. Easily. I’ll give you a second to think about it.

Here’s a hint if you’re still thinking. The main characters in the book go to a special kind of school by the name of Hogwarts. The most common response to this particular Facebook tag was the HP series. I think it’s understandable considering who I think is more likely to be on Facebook responding to these kinds of things. Would I have included the series? No. I think the movies are great and the books are likely a bit better, but have they stayed with me? I don’t think so. They’ll ultimately just be really great books that I think generations upon generations will continue to read. But I’ll just be reading through them once.

The rest of the top 20 on the list compiled by Facebook is about what you’d expect. Here it is:

1. Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling – 21.08%
2. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – 14.48%
3. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien – 13.86%
4. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien – 7.48%
5. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen – 7.28%
6. The Holy Bible – 7.21%
7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams 5.97%
8. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – 5.82%
9. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – 5.70%
10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 5.61%
11. 1984 by George Orwell – 5.37%
12. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – 5.26%
13. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – 5.23%
14. The Stand by Stephen King – 5.11%
15. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 4.95%
16. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – 4.38%
17. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – 4.27%
18. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – 4.05%
19. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – 4.01%
20. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – 3.95%

Stephen King is perhaps the only mild surprise if you ask me, but eh I’m no expert. What do you think of the books people are saying have stayed with them? I know it’s completely subjective, but we all have opinions. If you’re wondering, my entire list would consist of The Diary of a Young Girl and The Hunger Games. No more. Dracula would be very close to being included.

Besides letting me know what you think about the top 20 responses, let me know why particular books have stayed with you, or if you’ve written this post link to it in the comments and I’ll take a look at your picks.

I snagged this list from here.

Questions About Books and Reading

So I found a list of 55 questions related to books and reading on Tara Therese’s blog. I thought they were interesting enough to answer myself. BUT there’s a twist. If I wrote out answers to all 55 questions in a single post you all would not read all the way through. I know because I wouldn’t. Instead I’m going to answer 10 questions each day this week with the final 15 coming on Friday. This is a little different from what I normally post, but eh. Let’s go ahead and get started.

1. Favorite childhood book

I wasn’t a big reader as a child. So I’m going to have to to say Crispin: The Cross of Lead. This is the first real book I remember reading, though I have no idea when it was. 2003 maybe? No clue. You’ll notice that this is the book I mention in my ridiculously long bio on my About page.

2. What are you currently reading?

It’s actually a book written by a fellow blogger. But we have some stuff coming for that so I won’t say.

3. What book do you have on request at the library?

Unfortunately, none. I haven’t used the library much in recent years. Maybe I should. Well see.

4. Bad book habit

Bad book habit? I have no bad book habits. Unless you’re damaging your books by dog earing the pages or bending the covers all the way back, then I don’t see what habits there could be. I mean, not talking to a human being for 12 hours straight because you’ve been reading isn’t bad, right?

5. What do you currently have checked out from the library?

Well this is stupid. Nothing. If I actually used the library, then I’d most likely have something on request, right? Dumb question asker. (Who am I yelling at?)

6. Do you have an e-reader?

Of course. But don’t go punching me in the face. It was given to me as a gift by someone I no longer talk to. It’s a Kindle Keyboard. So it’s one of the first models, though I’ve never had any problems with it. I’ve read maybe 20 books on it in three years.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time or several at once?

I feel like I’ve written posts about all of these questions. One book for me. Everyone who reads several is a crazy person. Just kidding. Nope.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting your blog?

Well yes, but the blog has nothing to do with my reading. Last year I was finishing up my undergrad and then writing my first book. This year I’ve just been lazy.

9. Least favorite book you’ve read this year

Easy. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.Didn’t like it at all. Not going to explain further because I’ve already written about it.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year

Another easy one. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Best book I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read this for some reason, then you need to right now. Right now.

So there you have the first 10 questions and tomorrow shall bring 10 more. Any thoughts? Also, I just realized that she skips random numbers in her post, so I may have less than the 55 I’d said unless I start searching the internet for others who have answered the questions. We’ll see.

Reading Multiple Books at Once

ImagePhoto Credit: sodahead

This is something I honestly don’t understand and definitely makes me want to punch some people in the face. Because I’ve read way too many blog posts about someone reading three or four or even five books at the same time. No.

Not counting college textbooks, I’ve never once read more than one book at a time. How is one supposed to become immersed in a story if it’s just one of many fighting for your attention? You all may or may not remember that I read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank for the first time earlier this year. Though non-fiction, it easily became the best book I’ve read. I can tell you for certain that had I been reading another book at the same time as that one that my opinion would not be the same. It would still be the same book and I’d think highly of it, but I doubt it’d be number one on my list. Because I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate it quite like I did.

To me, reading multiple books at once will never happen. All that can result is taking away from each story. I don’t want books I’ve bought to be spoiled because I decided to read something else at the same time. BUT I know for a fact that many, many people do this, and now I’m asking you why.

Books You MUST Read

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Photo Credit

I’m sure you’ll recall that last week I wrote about several books that I would never read under any circumstances. If not, you can read that post here. Immediately after writing that post I thought it only fair that I write the opposite post. So now you guys get a few books that you absolutely positively must read. Ready? Off we go.

1. The Diary of a Young Girl

I was lying in bed trying to come up with a short list of books to include on this list and this one was a given. It took about eight seconds for me to come up with it. Any person over the age of probably 12 who has studied any bit of world history knows something about the story of Anne Frank. I learned about it in high school and I’d already known a bit about it before. The thing is that when you’re being taught about the happenings of her family in the middle of a curriculum that is already overloaded with information you get to spend so little time on specific topics. Which is why her diary is a must read. You get EVERYTHING. From her. Fear. Hope. Depression. Happiness. Everything. You should have read this by now. I wrote a post about this book as part of my journey to read the Amazon 100 books list that you can read here.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

This needs little to no explanation. My reasoning for naming the first in the series is because I’d never recommend reading any series from a middle book, and especially not one as great as this. I’ve also written a post about this book for the same reason as Anne Frank that can be read here.

3. Dracula

This was another easy pick for me. I surely hope you’ve read it by now because this is definitely one of my favorite books that I somehow don’t own! But seriously, when I think vampire I think Dracula. When I think evil I think Dracula. When I think monster or man vs monster I think of this book. It makes no difference that it was published over a hundred years ago. This is one of those books that will remain for all time. At least I hope so.

4. The Hunger Games

You didn’t think I would write a post like this and leave my favorite series ever out of it, did you? No. I couldn’t do that. Honestly, I like Catching Fire just a bit more than the first in the trilogy but again, I can’t recommend that you begin a series with the middle book. That’s crazy. I stated in my post about my favorite series that Suzanne Collins had me crying within the first chapter of the first book of her series. The rest of the book was just as well written, paced, and truly fantastic as that opening chapter. If you don’t want to read this, fine, leave my slice of the blogging world. Leave now!

5. Divided Within

Did you catch what I did there? That’s MY book! Ha. No, I don’t think my book is anywhere near any of these others. BUT I would love for you guys to read it. It’s my baby. I’ll stop short of demanding that you buy it as soon as you read this post because, quite frankly, I’m not that worried about it at this point. If you’d like to read it thennnnn please go ahead. If not, I still like you. Okay, I like you a little less now. Can’t be helped.

A little note about this list. I only included books I’ve actually read. So I’m sure some of you guys will wonder how come none of the all-time greats are listed. That’s why. Because I haven’t read them. Remember, that’s the whole point of my tackling the Amazon list. One book that I almost included on this list was The Great Gatsby. But I read that book so long ago and so many since that I just don’t remember hardly any of it. And I haven’t read LOTR. Yet. So don’t yell at me that my list is flawed. It can always be updated.

What do you think of my little list here? Like? Dislike? Want to throw me out a window? Let me know!

Amazon’s List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read: 63. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Photo Credit: npr.org

Since I’ve decided to do my best to read every book on Amazon’s List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read in a Lifetime, I’ve now decided to also dedicate a full post to each book I finish. The first on the list is The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I’ll first have you know that it isn’t my intention to review the books I read from the list, per se, but rather to offer up my thoughts in a manner that may not always be critical. Now let me tell you what I thought of one of the most well-known works of any author of the 20th century.

The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne begins the book at the fairly young age of just thirteen years, but you wouldn’t know it from her writing. She easily describes each of the eight inhabitants of the Secret Annex, she describes the relationships that develop between all of them, she describes her longing for companionship during her first year in hiding, the feeling of coming to love Peter, experiencing puberty, and the great optimism that came with the Allied invasion of France on June 6, 1944. She puts you there in that annex and keeps you there for the 25 months she remained. She tells you what she thinks of herself and everyone around her. She writes of wanting to publish her diary after the war has ended. She gives the reader an account of what it meant to be persecuted as a Jew in German occupied Europe during World War II.

My Thoughts

I’m somewhat upset with myself for having waited this long to read this. I think I watched and/ or read one of the plays during high school, but it’s just not the same as reading her words. I was in tears once I was nearing the end because of the joy that had made its way into her final entries. I wanted the ending to be different this time. I wanted those eight people to make it through the war without being discovered. I wanted Anne to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer. I wanted all of these things as I read about each of their deaths in the Afterword. If you have not read this wonderful work, then please read it. Though I’d never read it, I think I’ve read quotes and reviews that label this as one of the prime examples of the human condition, and yes, this is it. It is far and away the best book I’ve ever read. I’ll leave you with a quote from Anne.

“I want to go on living even after my death.”

If only you knew, Anne, if only you knew.