The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. A Review. Book 12 out of 52

“In my experience, successful people shoot for the stars, put their hearts on the line in every battle, and ultimately discover that the lessons

learned from the pursuit of excellence mean much more than the immediate trophies and glory” – Josh Waitzkin

I did not think that I would glean as much as I did from a book about chess. Granted, I understand that there is a lot one can learn from game theory. No, not just the mathematical conflict models, the actual practice of playing games with others. Perhaps it is in part my desire to be the best at whatever I am doing. It could also be that my drive is based more on the overall success and not just the momentary ones.

Regardless of what my idea was about this book, it provided a ton of introspection as Waitzkin walked through the trials and tribulation of striving for excellence. Not just with chess, but with martial arts as well. The parallels and similarities drive through and through this book. I think that I am going to need to revisit this one once my 2018 reading challenge is over. There is more to pull from this.

All in all I would give The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin a 3.5 out of 5. Lower than most would expect, but based purely on the fact that I am going to have to re-read it to understand it a little more.

Son: By Lois Lowry. A Review. Book 4-52

After making great headway on the books I wanted to read this year, life became life. However, I finished “Son” on time. Having had a weekend to digest all that this tome entailed, and wanting to keep the momentum moving, here is my review.

Gut wrenching heartache. Having the ability to read all four books of the quartet, back to back, has been astounding. “Son”, by far, the longest, takes some of the craziest turns out of the four book in “The Giver” quartet. I had heard from many that this book was highly favored in the series. Though I found the book to be amazing, I also found it harder to follow.

There is such a departure from the rhythm. Trust me, I stay that knowing that based on what all is covered by “Son” that this departure was needed. Regardless, there were times that I had to re-read multiple chapters, listen to the audio again and again, all in an effort to make sure that the leaps the story was taken were intended.

Still, it was a fantastic book. Not my favored in the series, least favored to be frank. But still a very good book. The arc that the protagonist takes is a wild and crazy ride. I found myself wanting to dive into the story and be there, to place my hand on their shoulder, out of comfort and guidance. Times that I was internally screaming for joy, and others that I was wracked with sorrow.

But there is one thing that just irks me. One thing that I have had to read, re-read, and listen to multiple times. The conclusion. Things, all things, come together. The climax has been built, laid out, sullied, and then displayed for all. My heart was racing, pages were turning. Each word was being read with a sniper like accuracy. Then, in a flash, it was over. The end. Perhaps it is the quick ending of the entire saga why this is my least favorite book out of the four.

Three and a half out of five stars is all that I can give. Pales in comparison to the books that preceded it, but still worthy of reading by all. I may come back and read it again later, just to see how my mind has changed.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Messenger: By Lois Lowry. A Review. Book 3-52

For once, there was continuity, from the beginning. However, that made me want to devour the words on the pages even more. With every turn there was a flurry of thoughts, connections, and wonder.  “Messenger” is by far the most intense of the first three books in this quartet. Much like as in “The Giver” and “Gathering Blue” there were many, many moments where I had to turn back the page. Not because I was lost, but because I found something amazing.

Through the entire last half of the book, I was on the edge of my seat. Wondering what was going to happen next, uttering prayers for characters of a book. I, once again, saw another one of my children in this books protagonist. My son David shares so much with the character, that there were moments where I could close my eyes and see David, a little older, going through the events. This was both a good and a bad thing.

It is hard to NOT read these books through the eyes of a parent. Even harder to rationalize how I may have read them when I was younger. I would challenge any parent to read “Messenger” and NOT see at least some glimpse of your child in one of the characters.

Out of the three books that I have read for my (self-imposed) 2018 Reading Challenge, I think that this one would be my second favorite. Perhaps I need to create a ranking list. All in all 4.9 out of 5 stars. If you have not purchased the quartet, you should. Then read it all and let me know what you think. All of this, and I still have one more to go.

Gathering Blue: By Lois Lowry. A Review. Book 2-52

Sorry for the delay. Between snowstorms and putting together the announcement for the next addition to our family, life has been full. If you missed the announcement, you can find it here. Please check it out, it took far too long for me to put together. However, I am happy with it nonetheless.

Without further ado, my less than 300 word spoiler free review of “Gathering Blue” by Lois Lowry.

On the heels of finishing “The Giver” I dove into “Gathering Blue”. I was begging for continuation, closure, and solace. It was quickly made apparent that I was not going to get these things. But, what I did find was something amazing. Perhaps it was because I had just finished “The Giver” that I was able to immerse myself into the setting so quickly. It is also, most likely, the case that I yet again saw the protagonist as one of my children, my daughter. It was not until the last few chapters that ALL of it started to come together.

When it started to collide, I found myself reading at a breakneck pace. Pages conquered in minuets, if not seconds. Flipping backwards to see if I read something right, honing in on what was happening. My heart was racing, and there were tears in my eyes as I got to the end. A quite from early on resounded loud and true as I put the book down, sighing in some closure and relief. “Take pride in your pain; you are stronger than those who have none” is a mantra to keep close to your heart.

With the same tenacity, as I finished “Gathering Blue” I started “Messenger”. With many of the same hopes carrying over from “The Giver” as before. Seeking more, seeking closure, seeking the rest of the story.

I would give this book a strong 5 out of 5. When I started reading it, the rating was hovering around a 3. But, upon completion it has rocketed to my 2nd or 3rd favorite book of all time. Worth the read as a standalone, but I think better after reading “The Giver”. Looking to pick up a copy, use my link here: “Gathering Blue”. This is not an affiliate link.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Let the reading begin!

In true form, I have begun the task that I set fourth for myself. For those that missed it, HERE I set a challenge to read a book a week. One day in, I am about 3/4 of the way done with “The Giver”. Now, I will not be saying anything about this book now. For that, you will have to wait until next week when I post my synopsis on our blog. I have also created a wishlist for the books that I am going to be reading this year. As I purchase books, they will be removed. The books are loaded in reverse order of the order that I will be reading them. If you feel like helping, please do. If you want to read along, that is a starting place for you as well.

Anyway, back to indulging myself in the finer things in life.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind, always.

Wishlist link (For those on other social media than our blog): http://a.co/0vBuT7E

In the coming year…

I know, you are most likely all TIRED of reading resolution after resolution. However, I wanted to document a challenge that I gave myself. See, not so long ago, in a land that seems far, far, away, I was an avid reader. How avid? It was a common occurrence for me to be working through three books, at once, all in a week or so. Yeah, that avid. I miss it. I miss reading. I miss what it does to my mind, and my way of thinking.

So, the other day, I reached out on Facebook. I asked for 52 books that I have not read, first come first serve. All to get back into it. One book a week. That is my goal. Well, my friends responded rapidly. So, here is the list (below). These are the books, and the order that I will be reading them in, starting in just a few hours. Additionally, I will be posting a SHORT synopsis (300 words or less, directly correlated to the length and complexity of the topic(s) covered in the book) the week after reading it. I will most likely give each book a 1-10 rating and include a link to the book for any that are interested.

I ask that you help keep me accountable on this. If you are not seeing a post on Monday or Tuesday, call me out on it. I miss reading, and I want my kids to see me entrenched with it as they are reaching their formative years of reading. 2017 was a wild ride, and I know that 2018 is going to be crazy. But, let’s all make the best of it. New year, new slate, new book… not just an empty page. May 2018 be amazing for all of you. If you are looking for me, my nose will be in a book.

Live big, love bigger, and be kind always.

 

Book Title Author Start Finish
1 The Giver Lois Lowry 1/1/2018 1/6/2018
2 Gathering Blue Lois Lowry 1/7/2018 1/13/2018
3 Messenger Lois Lowry 1/14/2018 1/20/2018
4 Son Lois Lowry 1/21/2018 1/27/2018
5 Crash the Chatterbox Steven Furtick 1/28/2018 2/3/2018
6 I Will Carry You Angie and Todd Smith 2/4/2018 2/10/2018
7 The Goal Eliyahu Goldratt 2/11/2018 2/17/2018
8 The Alienist Caleb Carr 2/18/2018 2/24/2018
9 The Magician: Apprentice Raymond Fiest 2/25/2018 3/3/2018
10 The Magician: Master Raymond Fiest 3/4/2018 3/10/2018
11 Time Traveler’s Wife Audrey Niffenegger 3/11/2018 3/17/2018
12 The Art of Learning Josh Waitzkin 3/18/2018 3/24/2018
13 The Remains of the Day Kazup Ishiguro 3/25/2018 3/31/2018
14 Appointment with Death Agatha Christie 4/1/2018 4/7/2018
15 Jesus Land Julia Scheeres 4/8/2018 4/14/2018
16 The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling Henry Fielding 4/15/2018 4/21/2018
17 The Bone Clocks David C. Mitchell 4/22/2018 4/28/2018
18 On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Steven King 4/29/2018 5/5/2018
19 The Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chobosky 5/6/2018 5/12/2018
20 The Sin of White Supremacy Jeannine Hill 5/13/2018 5/19/2018
21 The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingslover 5/20/2018 5/26/2018
22 A New Kind of Christian Brian McLaren 5/27/2018 6/2/2018
23 The Last Arrow Erwin McGinnis 6/3/2018 6/9/2018
24 Ghost Soldiers Hampton Sides 6/10/2018 6/16/2018
25 The Color of Magic Terry Prachett 6/17/2018 6/23/2018
26 House of Leaves Mark Z. Danielewski 6/24/2018 6/30/2018
27 Argall: The True Story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith William T. Vollmann 7/1/2018 7/7/2018
28 The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman 7/8/2018 7/14/2018
29 Dragon Teeth Michael Chriton 7/15/2018 7/21/2018
30 Cat’s Cradle Kurt Vonnegut 7/22/2018 7/28/2018
31 Contagious Jonah Berger 7/29/2018 8/4/2018
32 Cryptonimicon Neal Stephenson 8/5/2018 8/11/2018
33 Outlive Your Life Max Lucado 8/12/2018 8/18/2018
34 Storm Front Jim Butcher 8/19/2018 8/25/2018
35 1632 Eric Flint 8/26/2018 9/1/2018
36 Inverted World Christopher Priest 9/2/2018 9/8/2018
37 The Magicians Lev Grossman 9/9/2018 9/15/2018
38 Astrophysics for People in a Hurry Neil deGrasse Tyson 9/16/2018 9/22/2018
39 Some Buried Caesar Rex Stout 9/23/2018 9/29/2018
40 Invisible Cities Italo Calvino 9/30/2018 10/6/2018
41 Jennifer Government Max Berry 10/7/2018 10/13/2018
42 Liberty Defined Ron Paul 10/14/2018 10/20/2018
43 The Heart Goes Last Margaret Atwood 10/21/2018 10/27/2018
44 The Circus of the Earth and the Air Brooke Stevens 10/28/2018 11/3/2018
45 The Three Body Problem Cixin Liu 11/4/2018 11/10/2018
46 Boneshaker Cherie Priest 11/11/2018 11/17/2018
47 Leave it to Jeeves PG Wodehouse 11/18/2018 11/24/2018
48 Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea Guy Delisle 11/25/2018 12/1/2018
49 The Stupidest Angel Christopher Moore 12/2/2018 12/8/2018
50 At the Mountains of Madness HP Lovecraft 12/9/2018 12/15/2018
51 Unholy Night Seth Grahame-Smith 12/16/2018 12/22/2018
52 Prodigal Summer Barbara Kingslover 12/23/2018 12/29/2018