Tag Archives: reading

Summer Book Challenge : June Reads

Month two of the Semi-Charmed Kind of Life Summer 2014 Book Challenge is completed. I read 5 fascinating books that I highly recommend to anyone! Let’s take a closer at each book I read and perhaps you’ll find your next summer beach read.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (278 pages)

This book has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for a while and I can definitely see why. I decided on this book because several other readers in the book challenge read it and suggested it. When I looked up what the book was about, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it takes place partly in Maine! Obviously I had to read it after that. The book tells two stories of two women. The first is Molly Ayer, who is a Penobscot Indian foster child who lives on Mount Desert Island in Maine. She steals a book from the library and is forced to conduct 50 hours of community service or face time in jail. She spends her hours helping an old women, Vivian Daly, clean out her attic at her seaside mansion. During her 50 hours of service, Vivian begins to tell Molly her story of becoming an orphan in NYC after immigrating from Ireland with her family. She, along with thousands of children, were sent by rail from NYC to the midwest via the Orphan Trains. The story is beautifully written and the parallel stories intertwined and enriched each other. I highly suggest this book!

Category: Read a book read by another blogger/challenge participant (15 points)

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (228 pages)

Lean_in.JPGWow! I can’t believe I just heard about this book. One of the best eye-opening books I have read in a long time. Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and has held high-level positions at other companies, such as Google. Sandberg outlines why women don’t seem to hold the same high-level executive positions like men do. There is this rarely spoken about double-standard that women can’t have been a powerful career and a family. Sandberg provides insightful anecdotes from her personal life as well as other women she has met along the way. I was surprised at some of her stories because I have experienced similar stories and situations in my short career life and it does bother me. I hope that my generation will finally break through the gender gap and convince women that you can have a successful career and a family. This is a must read for all women and men.

Category: Read a pair of books with Antonyms in the title (30 points). Paired with Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (369 pages)

This book has been sitting on my nightstand for about two years on my “to read” book pile. I love science and medical books so I’m not sure why I kept putting off reading this. I absolutely fell in love with this book! Interesting enough, in my previous biomedical research life I have done cell culture research with Hela cells. I did a short presentation on Hela cells in my cell biology course years ago before this book was published so I was slightly familiar with them. I loved how Skloot intertwined the science with the personal story of Henrietta. For someone like my self who has conducted research with mice and various cell cultures, sometimes it’s nice to put a face to materials that you use in the lab. It reminds you that people donated (but not in the case of Henrietta) their genetic material/body parts to science in hopes of finding cures for incurable diseases. When my mother died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), we donated her temporal lobe for research. If you’re looking for something about science with a bit of a human story then I suggest picking up this book.

Category: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir (25 points)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (318 pages)

Everyone was fussing about this book and movie so I figured I would check it out. If you have read the book or seen the movie then you know that it has a sad ending. It was a quick read and I really enjoyed the story. As much as I wanted a happy ending, I think the story portrayed cancer actually in the sense that unfortunately not everyone survives. Interesting enough, I have actually done research on osteosarcoma in my past life. I enjoyed this book and if you’ll looking for a quick read then pick this one up. Other than that, you can probably do without reading it.

Category: Read a book on the New York Times Bestseller List when you first start reading it (15 points) – July 13th #1 in Young Adult

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (382 pages)

Unknown-3My sister bought this and had it on her nightstand. I was looking for a book with “children” in the title and stole this from her. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I absolutely fell head-over-heels for this book! I’m usually not a fan of fantasy books, but this book is original and beautifully written. I loved how Riggs based the story off of peculiar photographs from the past. Each character is well crafted and I couldn’t put the book down. I just started reading the sequel today and have about a 100 pages left (it has close to 400 pages in it). I highly recommend this book for young adults and adults alike! 🙂

Category: Read a book with “son(s), “daughter(s), or “child(ren)” in the title (20 points)

Missed the books I read it May – check it out here – Summer Book Challenge: May Reads

Summer Book Challenge: May Reads


I love to read, but sometimes it just falls to the sideline when I get super busy. My “to read” pile keeps getting bigger and bigger and I really need to get through it before I buy more books. Enter the Semi-Charmed Summer 2014 Book Challenge. I gave you my preliminary list a few weeks ago, but  of course I already changed half the books I was originally going to read. Too many books, too little time.

I was able to finish 4 books in the month of May. Three of which I read on my one week vacation in Belize and Guatemala. I am half way through my 5th book that I will probably finish on the plane tomorrow to New Orleans for a work conference. I just love my job! Have I mentioned that lately?

Cholesterol Clarity: What the HDL is Wrong with my Numbers? By Jimmy Moore with Eric C. Westman, MD (241 pages)

I first heard about this book through Vinnie Tortorich’s podcast, America’s Angriest Trainer. If you haven’t heard of that podcast then you are definitely missing out. Everyone thinks that high cholesterol is bad for you and causes heart disease. But, did you know all that information is based on bad science? Fat is good for you and so is cholesterol! Moore, along with his team of medical and science experts, present a convincing case of why cholesterol is good for you and your heart. I read a lot about science and nutrition and much of the current recommended nutrition is based on bad science. At times the book dragged on a bit and if you’re not familiar with medical and science terms than it could be slightly confusing to read. However, if you are currently taking statins and your doctor says that you have high cholesterol then I highly recommend you read this book. Heck, all doctors and medical professions should read this book and the studies that support the theory that cholesterol does not cause heart disease.

Category: Freebie (5 points)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (415 pages)

I really wanted to like this book, but it fell short for me. It is written well and I like how Flynn alternated character viewpoints in telling the story. But, it just wasn’t there for me. The story revolves around Amy Dunne going missing on the day of her wedding anniversary and her husband, Nick, being the prime suspect. I won’t give away the ending, but the story certainly takes an interesting and nontraditional twist. This book is going to be turned into a movie with Ben Affleck and released on October 3rd. I’ll be interested in seeing how they film the movie and if the ending will change. I doubt I will see it in theaters, but most definitely will rent it on Redbox.

Category: Book being adapted into a film in 2014 (20 points)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (219 pages)

I love Minday Kaling and The Mindy Project. I think she is a comedian genius. Have you seen her Harvard Law Commencement Speech? Pure Genius! I really enjoyed this book. Mindy portrays herself as a normal person, not some fancy Hollywood scarlet. She talks about her childhood as the fat girl who people made fun of growing up in Boston. She is Dartmouth educated and lived in NYC for a while before she was hired as a writer for The Office. The book is an easy read and funny. I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a fun beach read.

Category: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the title (30 points) – Paired with Lean In, which I’m reading next

Reading on the beach in Belize
Reading on the beach in Belize

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by Matt Kepnes (of NomadicMatt.com) (254 pages)

Now that I have a job where I can afford to travel more, I’ve been planning every holiday, long weekend, and my precious 10 days of vacation a year around exploring the world. I just booked my ticket to Ponta Delgada, Portugal for Thanksgiving break! I’m a big fan of Nomadic Matt and his travel blog. He’s been traveling the world on a budget for years now and has valuable advice for the budget traveler. The book is geared more towards a travel newbie. I’ve been reading his blog for a while now and knew some of the stuff in the book. However, I did learn some new things. I think this is a great book for any relatively new traveler looking to travel long-term as well as short-term on a budget. It would make an excellent graduation gift!

Category: A book written by a Blogger (25 points)

What are you reading this summer?


2014 Summer Book Challenge

I’m excited! Through some of the other blogs I read I came across the 2014 Summer Book Challenge sponsored by Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. I’ve always been an avid reader, even from a young age. When I was in elementary school and just starting to ride horses, my mother signed me up for The Saddle Club book club. Each month I received 4 books from the series. And every month, I would devour the books in a matter of hours.

I went to an all-girls Catholic high school where we were expected to read between 15-20 books each school year in our English courses. That does not include any other book we have to read in our other classes. Some books I loved, other books I hated. I will forever hate Jane Austen. I just can’t stand to read any of her books. #sorrynotsorry

I read a fair about of books now. Most of the books are on work-related topics, such as health policy and global health. I’ve had a stack of books next to my bed that has been growing for years. Someday I will finish each and every one of them. I’m hoping this challenge might help me tackle that pile.

The Challenge Categories:

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long. – Cholesterol Clarity: What the HDL is Worng with my Numbers? by Jimmy Moore
10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born. – 1984 by George Orwell (first published in 1949)
10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn’t finish the first time around. – Chi Running by Danny Dreyer
10 points: Read a book from the children’s section of the library or bookstore. – Le Petit Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery (both French and English verisons)
15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times‘ Best Sellers List when you begin reading it. – TBD
15 points:
 Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe. – TBD
15 points: Read a book another blogger has already read for the challenge. TBD
20 points: Read a book with “son(s),” “daughter(s)” or “child(ren)” in the title. – TBD
20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014. – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
25 points: Read a book written by a blogger. – How to Travel the World on $50 a Day by Matt Kepnes (Nomadicmatt.com)
25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir. – TBD
30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles. – TBD

I’m hoping to get through a few books on my vacation to Belize and Guatemala in a few weeks. Any book recommendations?