Since moving to Atlanta I have had the opportunity to be an extra in several films. I was able to work on this one for a few days last year. I recently found out the movie was based on a book and decided to give it a go. This book describes a girl “Dumplin’” who is not your typical pageant girl. She decides to compete in her town’s large pageant to make a point. I am sure the movie will be just fine, but this book was truly terrible. The story felt painful to read and did not have many layers to it. The main character is not a likable person, which obviously makes reading the narration difficult. Not only that, but she is a teenager. So imagine reading the diary of a moody and rude teenager. I would pass on this one if I were you.
2. Seriously…I’m Kidding
Oh, Ellen. I love Ellen Degeneres. Who doesn’t love Dory? Or the Ellen show for that matter? I really enjoyed this book. I listened to this on audible, so it was just like listening to her on the show. The chapters didn’t follow a specific outline and was just a compilation of silly stories and her making weird sounds on occasion. It was a great listen while cleaning the house. But if you are looking for a deep book to learn more about Ellen, you are not going to find it here.
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
*Spoilers*Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a next level Harry Potter fan. Seriously… I’m not kidding. This has always been of one of my favorite books of the series. This is really when the series took a turn and began to face deeper content. We are introduce to the DA, that always makes my heart feel brave and ready to fight for justice. We are introduced to the most evil villain in the books(yes, I think Umbridge is worse than Voldemort). We also get one of my all time favorite quotes from this book.”We all have light and dark inside of us, what matters is what part we act upon.”I love the tension that you feel as Harry begins to wonder if he has turned bad. There is a very real element to it that I think anyone could connect to.
4. Making Space: Creating a Home Meditation Practice
I read this little book one night before bed. It was pretty good! It was mostly a guide to starting your meditation practice. I found a lot of the tips very helpful and it is great for any beginner.
5. The Great Gatsby
I surprisingly never read this book when I was in High School. I have seen it in every Barnes and Noble, heard about the new movie, and always had it on my list of classics to read. The funny thing about this book is that I didn’t instantly fall in love with it. I didn’t hate it, but didn’t love it the majority of the time…And then we hit the last few chapters. I couldn’t stop reading it and was intrigued by every twist and turn. It was gripping and held my attention with ease. Once I finished the book I just kept replaying the story in my head. I will definitely be reading this one again!
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
J.K. Rowling wrote it, so I obviously love it. But seriously this one is wonderful as well. We begin to see the plot lines that will carry us until the end of the series. It is heartbreaking but makes you question everything you once believed about certain characters. I still remember rereading those last few chapters over and over in high school. It’s an incredible book that takes us deeper and deeper into this magical world.
7. Safe Haven
I have a few mixed feelings about this book. It is a Nicholas Sparks book, so that should be able to tell you somewhat about what you are about to experience. I had never read a book by this author but I have obviously seen a few of his movie adaptations. I was expecting corny, though I don’t think I was expecting something this corny. The first few chapters had me rolling my eyes into the back of head and I was slightly embarrassed that I was reading it in the first place. But hey, I needed to see what all the hype was about. The more I read, the more I realized something. I didn’t hate it, in fact I was extremely entertained. Later in the book we are also introduced to deeper and more interesting turns, which I loved! It was suspenseful had me on the edge of my seat. By the end of the book, I was sold. I really liked it! Though I definitely log this into the “guilty pleasure” category, there is no denying that it was a good romance book. I would probably read another one of his books in the future.
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
*Major Spoilers*The one that ends it all. This is another one of my favorites from the series. I might have a hard time vocalizing why I love this final installment so much, but I will try my best.Harry Potter is the ultimate heroes story. The story of good vs. evil and light vs. darkness. One of my favorite things about this story is that Harry Potter is not perfect. He is relatively average. He has his moments where he loses his temper and doesn’t feel brave. He has moments where he feels fear and wants to run. But he doesn’t. This kind of ties back into the quote from the fifth book. It matters what we choose to act upon. It matters what part of ourselves we choose to feed. Will we give into selfish or fearful thoughts? Or will be choose to stay, fight, and be brave in the midst of our weakness and inability? I also connected a great deal to his struggle with realizing that Dumbledore wasn’t perfect. Yes, he was a good man, but he was nowhere near perfect. Harry had built Dumbledore up in his mind that he was all knowing and a faultless human being, He idolized him in a way. In this book, we see Harry struggle with seeing his innocence shattered in a way. He sees Dumbledore for who he is, an imperfect human(though still a good man). I can connect to this because I have dealt with this in my own life. Building someone up so much in my mind and feeling my childhood innocence shatter when I found out my idol is not what I thought, Or maybe I didn’t know them as well as I believed. There is significant loss in this book. I believe we see about 15 beloved characters die. Unfortunately, that is war and the author wanted to paint an accurate picture of what a battle of this magnitude would look like. I know that Hermione and other character get a lot of love, but my two favorites are Harry Potter and Neville. Harry Potter shows us that you can always choose to be brave. You don’t need to be perfect or extraordinary to make a difference. He shows us what it looks like to sacrifice your life for those that you love. He makes me believe that we can all help overcome darkness. I love Neville because he is ordinary by typical standards. He isn’t very good at magic and has always been the least talented of the group. But what he lacks in magical talent, he makes up in his bravery. He stands up to the Death Eaters when they infiltrate Hogwarts. Not only that, but he still fights for justice even when he believes Harry Potter to be dead. He didn’t put his faith in a single person, he put his faith in what he believed to be right.I reread this series every year and I never regret it.
I have heard rave reviews for this memoir since earlier this year. It was every bit as gripping and powerful as I was told. In this memoir we get a snapshot into Tara Westover’s world. Tara grew up on a small farm in Idaho and was raised by survivalists. Her dad was convinced that the end of the world was near and the government was looking to steal his control. Due to this belief, Tara was denied medicine, schooling, and didn’t even have a birth certificate until she was 9 years old. We follow Tara through those painful years as she fought to become educated and break free. I have read many memoirs, they are some of my favorite genres, but this one might just take the cake. If you only read one memoir this coming year, consider putting Educated on your list.
Have you read any of these books before? What were your thoughts?