Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Top 10 Challenge Reads

I read some awesome books in the challenge and have even added a few to my ALL TIME favorite list. Below are my top 10 and a little bit about why I loved them:

(These are not ordered from least to greatest or whichever, but rather in the order that I read them within the challenge) 

A love story about a man with asperger's trying to find his ideal mate. Instead, he befriends the wild and daring Rosie, who does not at all fit his profile of an ideal mate. This book was a feel good book and I love those. I love a good love story and this one delivers. 

I ALWAYS recommend this book to people. And I've never had anyone come back and say they hated it. Just be warned.... you will need tissues and a whole lot of them. This is NOT a feel good story. This is a gut wrenching tear jerker that will leave you wishing you were still reading it, as odd as that sounds. You will LOVE it. It's controversial but still a love story at its core. Just... read it. 

Many people watched this movie and liked it. Well, as usual, the book is SO much better. I didn't even like the movie because I didn't think it did the emotions in the book justice. This book portrays Alice, who is diagnosed with early onset alzheimer's disease. Her and her family's emotions are raw and tangible in the story. As you can imagine, it's another tear jerker. I like to FEEL things when I read. I have another Lisa Genova book on hold for me at library and I can't wait to check that out soon! 

Oh this book. I LOVED this book so very much. I think it's the only teen fiction on my top 10 list, which makes me feel a little bit better. Honestly, I think I've hyped this book up in my mind too much to really talk about it fairly. I fear people will read this book after hearing me talk about it and think, "why does she love this book so much?" But, I did love it. It's another love story, but it just had a weird impact on me. I loved the characters and was rooting for them and on the edge of my seat the whole time. 

Okay, this one is NOT a love story or a feel good story in any way, shape or form. But, this book spoke to me in so many ways. It's the story of a woman writing letters to her husband trying to make sense of her life and the events leading up to her son killing several students and a teacher at his high school. With all of the school violence in today's world, this book is a bit like a punch to the gut and hits very close to home. I wanted to begin homeschooling immediately after reading this, but that's not a new idea of mine (I won't, because I recognize that fear is a terrible reason to homeschool). Anyway, this book is devastating but still important and VERY well done. 

This was the first book I had ever really listened to and enjoyed. It's a slow story, but so REAL and I felt like it quietly snuck up on me. It's the story of a family whose daughter goes missing and they both go back in time and reevaluate their parenting and life prior to her disappearance and try to put themselves back together afterwards. It's just a beautiful story of what you make of your life and how to pick up the pieces after tragedy strikes. This book made my all time favorite list. 

Lest you think I only read tear jerkers or love stories, this book is neither. It was hilarious though and a bit misogynistic, which for some reason, didn't bother me one bit. A man is called to sit shiva with his family that he rarely sees in his childhood home which he never visits immediately after he discovers his wife is having an affair with his boss. And, it does get worse. Or better if you enjoy reading about a train wreck as much as I do. I just love a sarcastic book that says things I think but don't think I'm allowed to actually say. This book was that. Plus, the scene where he actually FINDS his wife sleeping with his boss is truly worth reading the whole book. I laughed so hard, I cried. Damn! I guess this book did make me cry. 

A non fiction on my list! I also listened to this one and would highly recommend listening to it over reading it. The author is also the narrator and, in this case, I think that makes all of the difference. It's the author, Gregory Boyle's, experience working with gang members in LA. He's the pioneer of "Homeboy Industries" which is a company that hires ex gang members and helps keep them off of the streets and employed. His heart and love for this community is admirable and I left this book wanting to be a better person. It made me both laugh and cry. A winner. 

This is a graphic novel, which basically means it's a comic book. But, it's a comic book about the author's experience with her parents aging, being put into a home, and eventually passing away. You wouldn't think it would be so funny, but it really is. It's also REAL. Another example of saying the things you don't think you should say, but everyone is thinking it. It also made me have a conversation about aging and health care and our household belongings and my own parents' aging and so many other important topics that just aren't that fun to talk about. Roz Chast does talk about all of these issues in a relatable and even comical way. Very well done and easily one of my top 5 reads of this year. 

Grab the tissues for this one, too! Never mind, tissues won't help. Maybe just be prepared to change your clothes and might as well hop in the shower because you're going to need to just let the tears flow down the drain while you wash your sorrow away. And then you'll want to make sure to talk about this book with someone who's read it. Because it's SO freaking good. You'll want to talk to random strangers about how good this book was. You won't, for fear that you'll start uncontrollably sobbing in front of a STRANGER, but you'll want to. The story of a couple who is unable to have children when a baby washes up on the shore of their tiny island. The story plays out the consequences of their decision of what to do about this little girl and also tell the story of a marriage at odds and the pain and longing for children in the life of a couple who cannot bear them. If you struggle with infertility or reading about pregnancy loss (both early in pregnancy AND later) is a trigger for you, you might want to avoid this story. Overall, though, it's haunting and beautiful and tragic all at once. One of my top books of all time. 

That's it!! Happy reading :) I'll be back soon to talk about my goals for the next 52 weeks. I also promise to blog about other stuff at some point. I have big thoughts about foster care/adoption and my kids deserve an update as well - they're growing and changing SO much! Thanks for reading and following my challenge. I felt cheered on the whole year! 

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