We love books. We really love books. It’s somewhat surprising it took us until 2022 to decide to formally regale you with our current and past favorites on the regular.

It Starts and Ends With Us

So, while I am waiting for everyone in our family book club to finish book one, I decided to read a couple books that have gotten a lot of hype over the last year.  “It Ends With Us and It Starts With Us” is a 2 book series by Colleen Hoover. 

While I enjoy Hoover’s writing and ability to capture the reader, her lead women have a tendency to fall for the bad guy.  In her defense, the main character, Lily, does initially fall for the good guy, Atlas, but he’s of course, young, immature, boring and emotionally unavailable until she is involved with Ryle who is a good looking, charming brain surgeon who seems to have it all, but is also emotionally unavailable.  Hoover makes you want to root for Lily and Ryle but deep down you know it’s toxic.  There are signs that Ryle can’t change and isn’t capable of who Lily wants him to be, but isn’t that how abuse begins?  Lily is hopeful. He charms her, becomes obsessed by her and then blames her for his inability to control his temper.  In the end, Lily finds herself in a situation that she doesn’t want to be in, but isn’t sure how to escape.  She finds herself making excuses and praying that he can change.  

Woven throughout this tragic tale of love and abuse is the story of Atlas and Lily’s years growing up with an abusive father.  As you read this book, you will be asking the same questions I had:

Is this cycle of abuse bound to repeat itself?  Can Ryle get the help he needs?  Where does Atlas fit into this story?  Is Lily strong enough to leave?  Can the cycle of abuse be broken?

Hoover tackles domestic abuse in a way that feels real and honest.  You will find yourself wanting to judge Lily, but at the same time you understand her because you have also been sucked into this toxic ride.  

You will find yourself flinching and wanting to reach out and protect Lilly, but in the end, just like in the real world, Lily has to figure out if she can save herself.

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Finishing the Unfinished

Do you ever leave a book half-read on accident? Apparently, I do.

Over the holiday break, I was doing some much-needed clutter clearing. You know, finally loading things that I had gathered eight months ago into the car and delivering them to the donation site. Much of what I donated was books, which is always a struggle, but I won’t linger on that point. 

I donated about 60 books and what I discovered while going through them was I had a couple I never finished. I am not sure what happened. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them; I simply got distracted. 

One of the books I recently finished after discovering it was half-read was “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. I know, I know, you read it ages ago, and you can’t believe I never finished it. And you can’t fathom that I haven’t seen Reese Witherspoon in the movie. 

But all of this, I pinky swear, is true. As an aside, I am not sure why I imagine a pinky swear has more validity than a regular “cross my heart and hope to die” swear, but alas, I do.

What I have to say is not a spoiler alert for the other hermit who has been under a rock and has not read it, so feel free to continue if that’s you. 

Wow! I mean, holy, get a shower and get that stink off of you, wow!

My husband John and I have been pondering hiking the Appalachian Trail for years, and while I realize she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, some things remain the same. It’s a dirty, fatiguing, and life-altering business. 

After finally finishing the book, it didn’t make me not want to hike the AT or PCT. It made me question if I have the fortitude to be that filthy for that long. Honestly, can you imagine doing that to yourself on purpose? 

And her feet, please get the woman some help!

It also made me ponder just how noisy our lives are with often not a lot of anything. The ping and chirp of our phones often about nothing of consequence. The chatter of the television. The buzz of traffic. The loudness of nonsense.. 

However, out on the trail, I imagine it’s full yet simultaneously empty. Every sound, tree, creature, and space has its place and purpose. I can only think it’s a simplified grandeur that is punishing and purifying.

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Family Book Club

It may be a shiny New year, but some things never change.  We still love books.

Last year, we brought you book reviews on the regular as well as a summer reading list.  This year we are starting a family book club inspired by one of my good friends out here in Colorado.  She did a mother/daughter long-distance book club last year with her mom. We decided to implement one ourselves.  So, we have wrangled our mom and other sister into our plan and we have all purchased the book, “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides.

As with any new book, as soon as I got it in my hands, I had to start reading it.  I had no idea when we might do our first official book club meeting, but how long could it be?  It’s our January book.  I excitedly texted the family chat to inquire if they had also started the book.

I was met with so much shock that I would have begun reading when not everyone had their book yet.  How was I supposed to know?  I was asked to pause and perhaps I could busy myself with finding a March book.  

My first thought was what happened to February and second, I honestly wasn’t sure this family book club relationship was going to work out then G responded that she, too, had started the book.  

I guess G and I will both need to work on the reading list for the year as we have set our first official meeting for the end of February.

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