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!

Get Weird: Discover the Surprising Secret to Making a Difference by CJ Casciotta – BOOK REVIEW

40947713Title: Get Weird: Discover the Surprising Secret to Making a Difference

Author: CJ Casciotta

Publication Date & Publisher: September 11, 2018, Faith Words

Genre(s): Christian Living/Practical Life/Personal Growth

Length: 217 pages

ISBN: 978-1-5460-3191-8

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

 

Description (from Goodreads):

Most of us grow up believing it’s more important to fit in than to stand out. But there’s something different about you…and it matters.

What if your weirdness was the key to changing everything? What if the outrageous, imaginative, crazy ideas that live inside your wildest dreams are actually there on purpose, divinely preinstalled to help others?

Knowing what makes you weird is the best thing you can offer your art, your business, your friends, your family, and yourself. It’s the essence of creativity, the stuff of movements, and the hope for humanity. It’s time to quit painting by numbers, conforming to patterns, and checking off boxes. It’s time to GET WEIRD.

My review:

I enjoyed reading Get Weird, and CJ Casciotta definitely knows how to inspire people to be their truest, weirdest selves!

While the book is a Christian Living title, it doesn’t read as such. Casciotta includes references to scripture and Christian beliefs, but also includes plenty of other references. To be honest, about halfway through the book I had to go back and double check that what I was reading was actually something I’d consider a “Christian Living” title. The flow of Casciotta’s writing and the way he weaves words just isn’t what you’d expect from a book like this… you aren’t going to find scripture on every page or a how-to explanation on how to increase your faith.

What you will find in this book is a lot of inspiration to be the weirdly wonderful you you were made to be! As a person that’s always had a hard time fitting in, this was a really great read for me. I definitely felt a little more comfortable with my “weirdness” after reading Get Weird. I recommend it to anyone else that struggles to accept their uniqueness in a world constantly encouraging them to embrace sameness.

Thank you to FaithWords for providing me with a free review copy of this book. This in no way influenced my review.

What do you think of my review of Get Weird? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

Are you planning on purchasing Get Weird: Discover the Surprising Secret to Making a Difference? Please consider using one of these affiliate links: Amazon, Book Depository

 

When God Made You – a review

Now that my girls are older, I rarely get the opportunity to read children’s books.

Okay, that’s a lie…

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Image found on Flickr, Linda Jordon

On occasion (aka not so occasionally), you can find me sitting in my library/sewing/writing/soon-to-be-bed room reading Dr. Seuss — out loud.  (Not sure what it says about me that there’s a room in my house with an identity crisis) (Also, in case you weren’t aware…  out loud is the ONLY acceptable way to read a Dr. Seuss book!)

Since my girls are now 17 and 12, there aren’t many children’s books that I’m even willing to read, let alone take the time to re-read over and over again.  (Other than Seuss, obviously.)

For a book to achieve such an honor in my currently WAY overloaded schedule, it has got to be phenomenal.  To be honest, I would have told you such a book did not exist.

Turns out, I was wrong (again). Continue reading → When God Made You – a review

Father Found, Identity Now Missing.

A few years ago, my mom found out that her father wasn’t her father.   She and my uncle had taken a DNA test and it turned out he was her half-brother.

The relationship between my mom and grandma was already strained, so this bomb basically destroyed what little bit of communication still existed between them.  On the few occasions they did speak, it always resulted in my mom insisting on knowing who her real father is and my grandmother insisting that either the DNA results are wrong or the hospital gave her the wrong baby.

While this revelation tore my mom up inside, it didn’t affect me at all.   (Cue the stages of grief…)

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I had never known her father… my grandmother had remarried by the time I was born and I had always thought of my mother’s stepfather as my grandfather.  Even when my grandma divorced and remarried again, I considered her new husband my new grandfather.  (I’m pretty adaptable that way I guess.)

I barely let any of it bother me and continued on with my life.  After all, what did any of this have to do with me?

Whenever I visited either of them, I listened as my mom and grandma berated each other and recounted their side of the story over and over again.  Each defended themselves as if I was the judge & jury and they were trying to avoid the electric chair.  Still, it barely registered as a slight annoyance on my “things I’m going to stress about today” meter. meter down

Then the day came when I got this text:

Call me.  I have a dad.

Continue reading → Father Found, Identity Now Missing.

How Can I Keep My Sanity and Enjoy My Life? By A Power Outside of My Own.

Warning:  Today’s post is not going to be funny or upbeat.  I’m about to be serious (for once).

Mauerbauertraurigkeit – n. the inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.

I saw this word on my Twitter feed today.

My husband and I were sitting at the table this morning talking about this problem I have.  He went downstairs, I checked Twitter, and there it was.

I had no idea that this word existed…. But I should have. (I also wasn’t sure it was a real word when I read it, so I looked it up here.)

When I was in the 8th grade, a close friend died.  Almost every year thereafter, until I was in my late 20’s, I lost another friend.  At one point, I attended a funeral every month for 5 months… none of which were for anyone over the age of 24. Continue reading → How Can I Keep My Sanity and Enjoy My Life? By A Power Outside of My Own.