Posted in Books and Shows

August: What I’ve Been Reading

Hello and Happy Monday! How was your weekend?

I started the weekend Friday afternoon with “closing my eyes for a few minutes,” to waking up from a 2.5 hour nap! There’s no tired like teacher tired at the beginning of the school year! 😉

We had a much needed slow Saturday, but Sunday was filled with the usual of cleaning the house, and picking up the groceries. Travis and Hayden got in a round of golf, and Hadley had volleyball. Now we’re ready to start our first full week of school!

For today’s post, I’m sharing the books I read in August!

Unfortunately, I feel like I haven’t had as much time to read lately, but I did read three books this month. I thought I’d only read two…but remembered I finished The Family Upstairs right after last month’s post.

I rarely read a book I don’t like. I get so many book ideas from reading other blogs and keep an ongoing list. It’s pretty rare for me to choose a random book to read (and, obviously, I’m not hanging out in books stores or libraries right now). So, I just keep checking books off my list as I can.

The three books I read this month were all so different. I liked one and loved the other two. One blew my mind. One opened my eyes and my heart. One pulled me in and tugged at my heartstrings.

This month, I read: The Family Upstairs, Maid, and 28 Summers.

The Family Upstairs:

The Family Upstairs was crrrraaaazzzy! I actually described it to someone as twisted. Twisted as in twists and turns in the plot but twisted in regards to some of the things the characters did. My mind was blown, and I often caught myself reading with my mouth open because I couldn’t believe the words on the page.

On her 25th birthday, Libby Jones is ready to find out her real identity. When she was just a baby, the police found her at home in her crib, and there were three dead bodies dressed in black downstairs next to a note. So, Libby is adopted and goes on about her life until she’s able to find out more answers after her 25th birthday.

From Goodreads: “The can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.”

Tread lightly while reading this book! It keeps you on your toes.

Maid:

I like to think of myself as an empathetic and sympathetic person. I try to consider all walks of life, be mindful of what others have going on, and keep enough perspective in my own life to know that some of my daily problems pale in comparison to those who are single parents or in a lower socioeconomic class. I mean, I see it every day with my own students who have divorced parents, a parent that lost a job, students working two jobs themselves or helping raise younger siblings. I definitely keep those factors in mind while working with my students and extending them grace when needed.

In Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid, she tells the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. This book explores poverty in America, shows what it’s like to be a single mom, as well as provide insight into what government assistance looks like.

Land lived in a homeless shelter; her daughter learns to walk there. She eventually moved into to assisted housing and then a studio apartment for herself and her daughter. While working as a maid, she applies for programs and assistance, uses her resources, saves her money, works when she’s sick, suffers at the hands of abuse, and continues to strive for a better life for herself and her daughter.

The light she sheds on government assistance programs was eye-opening. She had to be careful not to make too much money, for example, or she would lose the loan that paid for her daughter’s daycare. When she would wander the grocery store to find the right brand of food in order to use her WIC checks, I could feel her stress as she retold those stories.

She says, “Even though I really needed it, I stopped using WIC checks for milk, cheese, eggs, and peanut butter–I never seemed to get the right size, brand, or color of eggs, and correct type of juice, or the specific number of ounces of cereal anyway. Each coupon had such specific requirements in what it could be used for, and I held my breath when the cashier rang them up.”

She even applied for loans for college and continued to chip away and her credit hours toward earning a degree while working and caring for her daughter. “My only real hope was school: an education would be my token to freedom.”

Her resilience and grit amazed me from page one. She remained positive and kept the goal in mind of a better life for herself and her daughter.

“When a person is too deep in systematic poverty, there is no upward trajectory. Life is a struggle and nothing else. But for me, many of my decisions came from an assumption that things would, eventually start to improve.”

This book had been on my reading list for a while. While on a walk a couple of months ago, I saw the book in one of our neighborhood libraries. When I read this book, I marked it up. I couldn’t help myself from underlining quotes and putting a ⭐️ next to ideas that were impactful and inspiring…like this one:

“I was never out for anyone’s sympathy. Besides, they couldn’t know unless they felt the weight of poverty themselves. The desperation of pushing through because it was the only option.”

I think this book may end up as a top read for me in 2020.

28 Summers:

I saw so many people talking about this book, and I love Elin Hilderbrand books, so I actually purchased this book. It takes a lot for me to buy a book, but the library wait was very long! Also, the Kindle version was just about the same price, so I went ahead and ordered the hardback version.

This book definitely seems to be the book of the summer, and I didn’t want to miss out! #fomo

28 Summers is based of the idea from the movie, Same Time, Next Year. Mallory and Jake met in Nantucket in the summer of 1993. After their Labor Day weekend together, they vow to meet every Labor Day weekend without any communication throughout the rest of the year.

Of course, the whole “same time, next year” mentality would be a big “no no” in real life, but I was all about this book in the fictional “same time, next year” sense. The characters were charming and complex, things happened each year that made you wonder if Mallory and Jake would keep their Labor Day visit, and life gets complicated!

I loved that each summer chapter started with a recap of what was really going on in that year. For example: “What were we talking about in 2020? Covid, Kobe Bryant, Zoom, TikTok…, What were we talking about in 1995? the Macarena, Windows ’95, O.J. Simpson, found innocent by a jury of his peers…, What were we talking about in 2003? space shuttle Columbia, the Atkins Diet, Saddam Hussein and the Iraq War, pumpkin-spice latte, “Shake it like a Polaroid picture.” Those examples at the beginning of each summer were such a good reference point and actually kind of hooked the reader into making a connection to their own life during those years.

In the movie, Doris says,” I knew…that no matter what the price, I was willing to pay it.” Jake and Mallory lived that quote to the fullest, and I was in tears at the end. #shocker #imasofty.

28 Summers will most likely be another top read for me this year.

I really enjoyed this month’s books so much, and I hope one (or more!) will be of interest to you. What have you been reading lately?

Happy Reading!

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