The Books That Got Me Through 2018

We’re coming up on the end of 2018 and I’ve been thinking a lot about all that’s happened this year…

My oldest daughter graduated from high school in May and went away to university in August.

My youngest daughter moved in with her father in August.

My husband and I had our first foster placement come into our home on December 1, 2017, and we said goodbye to them almost a year later, in November 2018. So I went from daily caring for 5 children in our home to 0, in what felt like overnight.

Throughout the year, my blood pressure continued to do what it does… go crazy high for no reason and make my husband (and sometimes the doctors) start preparing for my inevitable stroke.

And during all that, I thought the stress occurring both inside and outside our home was causing physical symptoms (my right arm would get weak, I couldn’t turn my head, a lot of pain). Last week, I found out that it’s not some sort of weird stress thing, it’s arthritis along with protrusions hitting my spinal nerves and cord. (We’ve already got a ton of medical bills so this was disturbing on multiple levels).

Basically, 2018 has been a crazy heavy year.

Friends, family and acquaintances are always asking how my husband and I are holding up. And while I really don’t mind them asking how we’re doing, my mom actually shared this with me on Facebook today, which I found hilarious…

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I’m actually not sure which is funnier though… the above FB post, or what happened the day the foster kids left…

I have red, puffy eyes and am wiping my nose (so it’s obvious I’ve been crying), when my husband asks “Are you okay?”

I looked at him like he had 4 heads. “Did you just ask me that?”

“Uh, yeah. Are you okay?”

To which I responded with something like “No, I’m not okay. I’m not going to be okay for a really long time and if you ask me if I’m okay again, you’re not going to be okay either.”

Now, any normal man with self-preservation skills would have seen the “You can’t win here, walk away or I’m gonna murder kill you” look in my eyes and given up. But not my husband. He’s a fixer. After 6 years together, he still hasn’t figured out that there are some things that can’t be fixed and he has to just let me be upset for a while… so he says… “Yeah, I know, but I can I get you anything?”

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A lot of violent responses went through my head at that moment… Thankfully, I went with the only one that wouldn’t require bail money.

“A box of wine.”

“I was gonna go to the store anyway. I’ll get you a bottle while I’m out.”

“No, a box. I’ve decided to give alcoholism a try and it’s going to require an entire box of wine to get a good start at it.”

Something you should know at this point… I’m not really a drinker and haven’t been since I was in my 20’s. The box of wine comment has been a joke between my husband and I for years now. I never actually want a box of wine, nor could I drink a box of wine on my own, but ya’ll…

He got me a BOX of wine to drink with dinner that evening!!

Anyway…

While I didn’t turn to a box of wine, I did turn to the one thing I’ve always counted on to deal with the real world – the fictional world!

So here are the books I read in 2018 that helped me escape, laugh, cry, and deal with all the feelings of this past year:

(You can click the titles of books I’ve reviewed to read my complete thoughts)
  1. The Bible.
    Yeah, I know, some of you just rolled your eyes and others are scrolling on down to the next book on the list, but it’s true. I’ve poured over more scripture in the last year than I have during any other year of my life, and it’s definitely been the most beneficial book to help me get through the year. It’s easy to blame God and get angry when we hurt, but I learned a lot about suffering, love, acceptance, and how to grieve without falling down my normal rabbit hole of despair. I also did a lot of reading plans through the YouVersion bible app, which was great. I recommend checking them out!
  2. Beneath the Same Heaven37795839-_sy180_You would think that as emotionally wrecked as this book left me I’d be upset that I chose 2018 to read it in, but no… I’m saying the opposite. Sometimes, escaping into a familiar world filled with pain, heartache, confusion, etc. of other people is just what the doctor ordered when you’re going through all that in your own life. Beneath the Same Heaven is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I wish everyone would read it!
  3. Auschwitz Lullaby 36576005
    This book was also incredibly emotional and had me crying so hard my husband tried to take it away from me! Seriously, I was an emotional mess the entire time I was reading it!
  4. Edge of the Known Bus Line
    Okay, you definitely have to have a certain kind of twisted humor to enjoy a book like this… Cannibalism, murder, cults – what’s not to find humorous, right?? Yeah, I probably laughed a little too much during this one, but it was needed. It’s a short and disturbing read that had me looking at the bus with fresh, slightly fearful eyes!
  5. the_irrationalist_coverThe Irrationalist.
    Just when you thought I only listed depressing, emotional, dark on this list, I give you… The Irrationalist! It’s comical in both it’s dry and not-so-dry humor. The main character, Adrien Baillet bumbles his way through much of the investigation into the murder of René Descartes and his suspects pretty much do the investigating for him. He learns a lot though and comes out a different person at the end, but it had me laughing through the whole book. (Plus, it taught me the word defenestrate… which I threaten to do all the time now!)
  6. Mammoth
    Another lighter, happier book got me through 2018 was Mammoth. It’s a young adult book about a girl with dreams of becoming a paleontologist who’s hero turns out to be someone completely different from who she thought he was. It’s a super fun read!

So those are the books that helped me get through some tough times in 2018. What was 2018 like for you? Do you have a “go-to” book (or 10) for when you’re having a hard time? Let me know in the comments section below!

Edge of the Known Bus Line by James R. Gapinski – BOOK REVIEW

40081069Title: Edge of the Known Bus Line
Author: James R. Gapinski
Publication Date & Publisher: May 2018, Etchings Press
Genre(s): General (Adult) Fiction
Length: 134 pages
ISBN: 13:978-0-9988976-0-8
My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

A woman’s daily commute takes an abrupt turn when she’s dropped off in a grotesque shantytown in Edge of the Known Bus Line. The townsfolk live in huts and tents scavenged from broken trinkets. They eat dead rats and human flesh. They’ve developed cult-like religions about miracle bus routes that will someday set them free. The narrator searches for a way out of this surreal hellscape while dredging up a few nightmares of her own.

My review: 

Wow… Just. WOW!

Edge of the Known Bus Line is a novella about a woman who’s been going through her days just kind of floating through life. She rides the same bus to work everyday with the same people, but she doesn’t know any of their names. (Well, I guess that isn’t entirely true…she gives them her own made up names, but I’m not sure that really counts.)

One morning she goes to get on the bus and the marquee reads “Out of Service.” Since it’s the same bus with the same passengers as every other morning, she thinks it’s obvious the marquee is some funny mistake. SPOILER ALERT: She’s wrong.

She ends up in a super twisted place, but she’s kinda twisted herself. Anyone else who got off of that bus would have freaked out but she seems almost unfazed!

Edge of the Known Bus Line is one of those reads that sticks with you long after you’re finished reading. And when you’re done, all you can think is “What the heck did I just read?”

I don’t mean that in a bad way. I really enjoyed the book, but…

It’s disturbing.

There’s cannibalism, murder, cults…it’s crazy. And gruesome. And a little scary. And somehow funny at the same time…

I’ve never laughed so much at a book filled with so much darkness.

This is definitely NOT a family-friendly read, but I recommend it to anyone who enjoys getting the creepy crawlies with their laughs!

I received a copy of this book from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. This in no way influenced my review.

What do you think of Edge of the Known Bus Line? Have you read it or are you planning on reading it in the future? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday -August 22, 2018

img_1384-0Hello everyone! I’ve missed the last couple of weeks, but I’m finally posting my second WWW Wednesday in August!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

Don’t know what WWW Wendesday is or how to participate??? All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog! (You can also leave your link in my comments to be sure I don’t miss your post!)

The three WWW questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich at first, but by the end of the first chapter, I was hooked!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve been reading Born to Wander by Michelle Van Loon with my husband. It’s really interesting and has led to some great discussions!

 

 

 

 

 

I recently finished:

I may have missed the last couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t carve out some reading time…

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I absolutely loved Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky and I’ll be sharing my review soon!

 

 

 

 

 

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Edge of the Known Bus Line by James R. Gapinski was a super quick read that gave me chills!

 

 

 

 

 

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For some crazy reason, I decided to start reading classics that I either never got around to or just discovered…Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson was not a good one to start with! I was pretty disappointed and upset that it was recommended to me.

 

 

 

 

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Their Houses by Meredith Sue Willis is another book I recently finished that I fell in love with. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I got to the end and can’t wait to share the review with you all!

 

 

What I’ll be reading next:

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What’s your WWW? Any thoughts on the books above?  Leave a comment or send me a message through the Contact Me page.

Want to support my laziness??? Feel free to leave a link to your own WWW Wednesday post in case I miss it over on Taking on a World of Words. (The link list is long over there guys, and I’ve got a lot of books to read…)