04.11.12 Personal

Good Reads : Unbroken

I'm off to Texas this morning for a meeting and even though I'll return home tonight, choosing a book to take has proven to be a pain-staking process. I'm not deep into a certain book yet (having just finished one), so I stared at my book shelf and debated what spine to pull (here's a picture of my options). Did I ever mention that I owned a library as a kid? And right about NOW you're realizing that, yes, I'm proving every homeschooler stereotype.

I had shelves of books and an index box with corresponding cards alphabetized by author name, just as my local librarian, Mrs Blum, taught me. I dusted my library shelves and even charged fines to those who didn't return my books on time. It was a good thing I was fat as a kid or else I'd be worried about getting beat up for charging fees.

Years later, I still keep tabs on my books, even though I hate admitting this. Once my sister and I got into an argument because I wouldn't let her borrow a book because I said she wouldn't return it. I relented...but scribbled my name in the corner of the book JUST SO SHE'D KNOW WHO SHE WAS MESSING WITH. It's a wonder I have friends in real life.

I recently added these books to my library and here's my opinions on these Good Reads...
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I didn't know what to think of this book because I picked it up from the Teen Fiction section at Barnes&Noble...I slithered through the aisle to snag it before anyone noticed it was perched next to the Twilight series. I heard great things about it, but was warned it focused on a teen battling cancer. In light of losing Grace, my friends weren't sure it was proper time, but I dove it and loved every minute. I cried (and cried) at the end of the story because it's impeccably written, moving, real, and raw. Green writes in a way that makes the reader fully invested in the story and beg to find cures for a disease that robs many good souls. I loved it.

All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg. Make no mistake...this book is good (and very well written), but I just couldn't get invested in the story. It's the biography of Bragg's mother's life and while poignant, it was a little slow moving and extraordinarily descriptive. I mean, I like words, but Bragg chains them together to make you feel like you're stuck in the hills of Mississippi licking moonshine off your chapped lips. Every.single.chapter. I have a ton of respect for his family and his hard working mother, but I'd likely pass if given the option to read it again.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Okay, WHERE DO I START WITH THIS BOOK?! My friend Gail suggested I read it, but she warned me it'd likely be different from what we normally read. Penned by the author of Seabiscuit (strike one), it focused on World War II (strike two...I don't like violence), and chronicled the amazing life of Louis Zamperini, an American Olympian drafted for the war then taken as a Japanese prisoner of war (strike three...I don't like prisoners). For some reason, I skeptically picked it up...then couldn't put it down. It's 400 odd pages, but I was hooked from beginning to end. It reads like a Hollywood movie and if there weren't so many legal documents verifying the truth of his life's odessey, I might never believe the strength of the human spirit. I finished feeling refreshed, emboldened, and challenged to live life bigger than I could have imagined. So, so good!

Happy Wednesday and if you borrow one of my books...LATE FEES!!!
Comment (55)
Share on

Thank you! Your comment has been saved.
Tina - I just finished reading Unbroken a couple of nights ago. It just made me realize that we are so much stronger than we think we are. Now when I have a difficulty I don't feel as defeated by it. I have recommended it to several people.  04.18.12 - 11:26am
karen - Can I just say... I LOVE your book recommendations! Your opinion adds/subtracts the points of whether or not a book is worth reading (and I used to work at a library!). One book I enjoy is "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy. I'm terrible with catchy synopses, and I'm sure I'd only weakly mimic what amazon could tell you. :)  04.14.12 - 9:15pm
PattyL - I read Unbroken last month- I really don't know why I picked it up, but I was hooked from the first page. (I've never been interested in reading Seabiscuit, but man, can write- I'm adding Seabiscuit to my someday list). It was completely atypical for me, but I could not put it down. Want something also completely different? Night Circus. Mystical, magical, so beautifully written you have to read it slowly so you can absorb and imagine all that is described. Great story in it, too.  04.13.12 - 8:33pm
Andrea T - I met Rick Bragg a few years ago when I was a journalism major. He speaks just as descriptively as he writes. I would've suggested you begin with his book Somebody Told Me, which is a collection of some of his newspapers articles. Personally, I like his articles better than his books. And I do believe Unbroken will be my next book purchase!!!!!!!!!  04.13.12 - 1:39am
Katie - I have been looking for a good next book to read, and after reading this post-I immediately went on amazon and bought The Fault in our Stars. Ten pages in and I'm hooked...thanks for the recommendation!!  04.12.12 - 9:35pm
Kristen - I hope you picked The Snow Child! I just picked it up last when you do these book reviews.  04.12.12 - 5:30pm
Greg - A most unusual and very entertaining book to add to your collection The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson  04.12.12 - 11:37am
Susan Jennings - I am currently on page 210 of Seabiscuit, this is not normally a book I would read, but I am truly enjoying. It is good to try new things! Thanks for the book reviews. PS - I would always return your books on time, no late fees for me!!   04.12.12 - 6:07am
Mikaela - yay I LOVE these posts of yours! I suggested Little Bee to my book club based off your recommendation and oh my, it is now one of my favorites.  04.11.12 - 11:27pm
Alyssa - I noticed you call these posts about your recent reads "good reads"... have you heard of the website called GoodReads ? ( Awesome site where anybody can review books, find new ones, etc. If you haven't yet you should absolutely check it out. :-) Happy reading!  04.11.12 - 11:10pm
Hailey - I hope you brought Looking For Alaska! What ended up being the winner?  04.11.12 - 6:13pm
Ashley Goodwin - I love that you said "it would be different from what we normally read" because my friend Rebecca is like Gail, she always recommends books to me and she reads then, then rushes me through reading them, then we discuss. Good thing you WERE a fat kid, don't want to go getting beat up. But I heard fat kids read Harry Potter.... I'M SENDING YOU A COPY with YOUR name signed in it. That way, you have to own it.   04.11.12 - 3:52pm
Jthrasher - I like the last review on the book Unbroken. Sounds like a good read. I like books that document the life of a person who survived the impossible. It reminds me of a book called, "Safely Home" by Randy Alcorn. It's about religious freedom. It's a book that captures the heart and for those who have a soft heart, it is hard to put down. So next time you fly, maybe consider this novel. It's inspiring in many ways, and is very thought provoking.  04.11.12 - 12:51pm
Lorraine <3 - I heard Louis Zamperini speak at the Harvest Crusade this past year. He is an amazing and inspiring person. And although physically weakened by age...a very dapper old man. ;) Can't wait to pick up the book!  04.11.12 - 11:54am
Liz - I read The Fault in our Stars because of the instagram photo you took of it. I LOVED it. Such a good book!  04.11.12 - 11:40am
Liz - Haha!! I once made my sister in law replace the book she lost... first edition Nicholas Sparks in hardcover in pristine condition (because that's how I lent it to her). I'm amazed we're still talking!!   04.11.12 - 11:37am
Donna M Kennedy - The Bible is the best read ever!  04.11.12 - 11:04am
RQPierce - I instantly read this post because of the title. I jut finished Unbroken on Monday - I waited to return it until I had even read all the acknowledgements. (Yea, I'm a book nerd too.) I devoured every word! It showed how crazy perfect God's providence is- even when I don't agree or understand. Thanks for sharing!  04.11.12 - 10:58am
Lydia - As I'm sitting in a large room surrounded by double-booked bookshelves, I can relate! I'm proud of my library though I really need to do a better job at getting through my "to read" list and not just adding to the collection!  04.11.12 - 10:47am
Amber Katrina - Thanks for the book suggestions. I think we tend to have similar taste in books. Are you on I wish I could "friend" you on there and share ratings. lol  04.11.12 - 10:31am
Kate - Read Crazy Love! It will rock you. I promise.  04.11.12 - 10:24am
Marlo Laney - Just wish I had the time to escape in a book. I will be working on that this month. I need to find my time management book..LOL Let me go dust it off :o)  04.11.12 - 10:16am
Paulette - thanks for the good reads jas! i will definitely be reading unbroken (i'm a history nut) :] not sure i could get through the fault in our stars in one piece.   04.11.12 - 10:10am
Beth - I see Crazy Love in that mix :) I love that book, and everything Francis Chan writes, he is so inspiring.  04.11.12 - 10:04am
LEOLAK - Hahahaha...I'm the say way with books!!! Don't let me get it back all messed up either! RGH! I keep my books in pristine condition! For this reason...I myself very rarely loan out books. Thanks for the suggestions and safe travels to Texas!! Love that quote under the bottle!   04.11.12 - 10:03am
Rachel Del Grosso - I recently read "the fault in our stars" and absolutely loved it!  04.11.12 - 10:02am
Sharon - TEXAS! :) Enjoy your quick trip and I hope you have a good meeting!   04.11.12 - 9:59am
Kristi Hill - Ha ha! We are kindred spirits! I actually had to have a large built in bookcase built in my basement to house my book collection. I am very anal about my books and hate to loan them out. God forbid you dog-ear a page!! Thanks for the book reccos. BTW, since you're a dog lover, you need to read Sight Hound by Pam Houston. It's amazing.   04.11.12 - 9:47am
Leigh - I would love love to read Unbroken. If I can ever figure out how to download books to my iPad I'll be golden.   04.11.12 - 9:46am
Kim butler - YIPPIE!! It's the sign I gave you for Christmas! :)  04.11.12 - 9:39am
May - I would love to see a seperate category for all the book reviews you have on the blog (for easy access). It is not easy to pick a new book.. Have a super day.  04.11.12 - 9:33am
Gail - And by the way, this book of Rick's is pretty solid: You have to understand, when I was 20, HE was the kind of journalist I wanted to be. Sigh.   04.11.12 - 9:33am
Tiffany Avans - Great post! I still need to read Unbroken thanks for the reminder. I had the opportunity to see Louis Zamperini earlier this year at Church. Amazing interview between our pastor and Louis :)  04.11.12 - 9:32am
Gail - A few things: 1) I actually had a legit old school library stamp I'd use with books as a kid because yeah, I kept those same records you did! And yep, still hard to lend out books without wanting to add a "And if you don't give this back, I know where you live" comment - haha 2) So glad you fell for Hazel and Gus too. This is on its way to being made a movie. They better not mess it up! And also, if you didn't already love John Green, you MUST read this article (it's full of incredible background on Fault in Our Stars) -- so proud to say he's a Hoosier: 3) And finally, OMG so incredible. What he goes through in Japan is so awful you almost FORGET he was lost at sea as long as he was. And that picture of him all old, rockin' out on a skateboard? Man, what a guy. SO glad you enjoyed a dip out of your reading comfort zone! Right there with ya!   04.11.12 - 9:31am
Lesslie Laurrin - Seriously think we are Latina sister from another mother. I dread when someone asks to borrow a book. Mind you I'm an only child and never had to share except with cousins. You know we have a ton! Once a friend asked if she could borrow your book Exposed... glup did she just ask to borrow my Jasmine Star book. I mentally yelled at myself for even mentioning I had it!! Enjoy my beautiful home of TEXAS how I miss it and here's to Southern Hospitality and sharing!  04.11.12 - 9:26am
Kerri Helms - If you haven't read The Help, you should! It's an easy read, but well written and the content is amazing.  04.11.12 - 9:22am
Mai - Yay! Thanks for the book reviews. I can never have enough books to read. :)  04.11.12 - 9:19am
Leah Crubel - <3 BOOKS!  04.11.12 - 9:18am
Kristi Chappell - You crack me up and save me time on figuring out on what to read next. Just finished "The War of Art" for the second time. Yes, I read it once and turned around and read it again. Juuussst to be sure I recognize "my resistance" and overcome it! Donald Miller "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" it's a good one you should add it to your library:)   04.11.12 - 9:17am
Chriselda - Ah! I'm currently reading "the fault in our stars" even though we just lost my little brother 11 months ago to the same diagnosis. It's a great read so far. Almost a comic relief. Thanks for highlighting it! I'm in Amarillo, tx. Surely you're not comin here. I hope you enjoy your (brief) stay   04.11.12 - 9:13am
Aundrea Shafer - I have not read Unbroken but a few years ago I read an article on Louis Zamperini. I was moved beyond words. I took a leap of faith and wrote him a letter pouring my heart out onto paper like an idiot. Or so I thought. He actually wrote back a week later and it is still one of my most prized possessions to this.   04.11.12 - 9:10am
Kimberli Nelson - Ha! I never loan out my own books either.... and I wish I had a library. I wish I was a librarian! (but all the schooling! ugh!). You'd probably charge me lots of late fees. When I love a book, I have a tendency to claim it for myself... like my sister's copy of the Hunger Games. Hey, she didn't write her name in the cover, so it COULD have been mine to start, right?! ;)  04.11.12 - 9:10am
Kate - Yay, I'm glad you liked The Fault in Our Stars! You've got to read Looking For Alaska next-- that's also a brilliant work of his. Really, all of Green's novels are wonderful.  04.11.12 - 9:08am
Ashlee - Thanks Jasmine! These are some of my favorite posts you write and I usually end up nominating a book (or two) that you've mentioned for my book club :)  04.11.12 - 9:07am
Grace - I love the book "Unbroken" as well. It is an amazing story. Last fall I was actually privileged to hear Louis Zamperini speak. It just goes to show what we could actually do if we set our minds to it!  04.11.12 - 8:57am
Rob Grant - Unbroken is a truly amazing story and one of the best books I ever read (actually I bought the audiobook). Everytime I saw your blog mentioning books I wanted to recommend it to you but I figured it wouldn't be your style of book. So glad to hear you checked it out and loved. Highly recommended for everyone. Incredible!  04.11.12 - 8:47am
Carrie K - My sister might have you beat on the "librarian" score you have going. . . she made me check out books from her WITH A PHOTO I.D. My. SISTER! lol :) (She also made me cover the books to keep them safe and protected...)  04.11.12 - 8:44am
Alli McWhinney - I have heard so much about Unbroken and have been meaning to read it! Thanks for reminding me!  04.11.12 - 8:34am
Molly @ mixedmolly - Unbroken is on my list of books to get! Can't wait to read it.   04.11.12 - 8:29am
Lori - I read Unbroken earlier this year and I absolutely loved it! Imagine it will be the best book I read all year.   04.11.12 - 8:08am
Catie Ronquillo - Um, I'm loving your shelf decor! And while I haven't read any of the books in the photo, I'll suggest Looking for Alaska, since my husband lived there for 7 years. And learned how to evade Grizzly Bears. No, really, apparently they teach you those things in Alaska. Have fun with your turnaround trip to Texas...the weather is perfect today. Unlike last week where there were like 13 tornadoes and I was on the road listening to NPR telling people to "seek shelter NOW" and I was freaking out! I'll take a small earthquake over a small tornado any day. :) Okay, have a great Wednesday!!  04.11.12 - 7:50am
Frank McCarron - I am not one who normally recommends books to others, but of late I have read three fictional books that knocked my socks off: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Wow. A first novel that is a home-run. Well worth the read. Daemon by Daniel Suarez. I bought it on the remainder table in the local bookstore and was blown away. The guy who made the movie Wargames now has optioned the movie rights to this book. Freedom (tm) by Daniel Suarez. The sequel that finishes off the story. Wow.  04.11.12 - 7:23am
Jovalex - Thanks for sharing! Greetings from Puerto Rico, have a nice trip to Texas!   04.11.12 - 7:16am
Chris - The only one of the books there that I've read is Crazy Love. It's a really good book. Easy to read but makes you think too. I still don't grasp the enormity of the love that it tries to convey. Definitely a book I would reccommend to others, in fact my copy has been loaned to friends a few times and I'm not sure who has it now! Maybe your library system has some merit :)  04.11.12 - 6:53am
Lexi - Unbroken is hands down one of my all time favorite books. ever. When my pop-pop died this winter, I was sitting in his office looking over his library, and saw Unbroken sitting on his desk. It must have been one of the last books he read. I started to read it and couldn't put it down! It's so raw, emotional, vivid....and SO good.  04.11.12 - 6:49am