May Reads

Buried in the Sky by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan

“When eleven climbers died on K2 in 2008, two Sherpas survived.  Their astonishing tale became the stuff of mountaineering legend.  This white-knuckle adventure follows the Sherpas from their remote villages in Nepal to the peak of the world’s most dangerous mountain, recounting one of the most dramatic disasters in alpine history from a fascinating new perspective.”

I couldn’t put this book down – is was so good.  It’s part inspirational and part heartbreaking to hear the stories of those who survive two avalanches on K2.  What I really liked about this book is that you can have no mountaineering background and still understand what’s going on.  The authors explain mountaineering terms, history and equipment for people like me who have no clue about the topic.  They also delve into the background of the Sherpas (Sherpa is actually an ethnic people, not the name of the porters), as well as the region surrounding K2.

As much as I loved this book, it also made me so aware of the injustices that the people of Nepal and Pakistan experience when climbers hire them.  They are paid $3 a day to transport 70+ pounds of gear and lead climbers up dangerous mountains no matter how skilled those climbers are.  It’s a business for them and they are almost forced to be “yes-men”.  In this book, the Americans are not villainized  (the turned back before the summit), but there is a Korean business man who basically forces two Sherpas to go back up the mountains to rescue his men who were unknowingly already dead. One of those Sherpas eventually dies.  There’s also a stubborn Dutchman who refuses to help out others on the trek, and then throws the Sherpas under the bus when the media comes calling.

Despite me really disliking those two men throughout the book, there were so many good people highlighted in the book.  Men who went back up to help others even though it wasn’t their job.  Men who spent hours to try to save a life despite them risking their own.  As much as the book was a heart-breaker, it was also heartwarming to see humans looking out for one another instead of their own personal gain.

I just really loved this book.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fast read or something non-fiction.

Triggers: Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake

“Triggers examines common parenting issues that cause us to explode inappropriately at our children. Moving beyond simple parenting tips on how to change your child’s behavior, authors Amber Lia and Wendy Speake offer biblical insight and practical tools to equip and encourage you on the journey away from anger-filled reactions toward gentle, biblical responses.”

This is a book that I have been reading for a bit and finally finished.  It’s 31 chapters and the reader is encouraged to read one chapter at a time, kind of like a devotional.  I tried to stick to that because it is such a wealth of knowledge and I wanted time to process it all.

This book is AWESOME!  It’s faith based and uses the Bible to teach moms how to cope with the “triggers” in life.  The first half of the book is things our kids do that cause us to react: disobeying, tantrums, fighting, etc.  The second half is our own personal triggers: anger, desire for perfection, etc.  Not all of the chapters applied to me in this part of life, but I learned so much about how to .  The chapters are filled with stories from the authors, tips on how to cope with each trigger, Bible verses we can use to combat how we are feeling, and a prayer at the end of the chapter.

I am very much a reactionary person, so this book has been so good in teaching me to just breathe and take a moment to compose myself before reacting to how my children are behaving.  I think this already is making a huge difference in how I parent Elizabeth when she is being difficult.  In addition, I’m learning how to deal with my personal issues (like wanting a clean house) so that I can respond with grace over frustration.

This book is great for any mom who is looking for faith based parenting tips.  I will be re-reading this book until my children are 18!

Becoming an Ironman by Kara Thom

I had just started training for an Ironman when I found out I was pregnant with Elizabeth.  The goal of completing one was put on hold, but now that the boys are 3 months, I have the urge to get back to my fitness level and start training again.  I don’t know that I have the time to train for a full Ironman, but I think 70.3 distance is totally doable.  (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run).

This book was a collection of stories by Ironman Athletes (Ironmen?) of all walks of life – professionals, amateurs, first timers, twenty-somethings, people in their 60’s and up, etc.  These are their stories in their words, which I really liked.  What was so motivating is that it shows that with enough discipline and motivation, anyone can complete an Ironman Triathlon.

It was really encouraging to read, and made me excited to get out there and start training for one maybe in 2019!

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kond0

This book was all the rage a few years ago and I finally got around to reading it.  After reading I kept asking myself “what was the big deal?”  Yes, there are some great tips in the book, but in general I was quite underwhelmed.

The whole point of the book is a “how to” of getting your things in order and keeping them that way, with an emphasis on getting rid of things that don’t “spark joy”.  My issue with this book is that there are a lot of things in my life that don’t spark joy but are a necessity – band aids for example, or tons of baby bottles.  Not things that bring a smile to my face, but obviously a necessity for life with kids.

Also, the author really got into treating your clothes well so that they aren’t sad.  She puts a lot of stock in our inanimate objects having feelings and emotions.  If they feel worn out, so will we.  I just found that all ridiculous and don’t think that spending extra time to fold my socks instead of rolling them in a ball will make my socks, and therefore my feet, happier.  But I also think that’s very much a part of Japanese culture.

I picked up a few tips, but in general was disappointed with book.  I think it would be a good read for a single person, but for anyone who moves a lot (hello army families), or is in a temporary stage of life, like child-rearing, would find this book hard to relate to.

The Piano Teacher  by Janice Y. K Lee

“In 1942, Englishman Will Truesdale falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese as World War II overwhelms their part of the world. Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong to work as a piano teacher and also begins a fateful affair. As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine, impossible choices emerge-between love and safety, courage and survival, the present, and above all, the past.”

This book was on an end-cap at the library, so I grabbed it and threw it into my purse to read while waiting at doctor’s appointments or when the kids fell asleep in the car and I didn’t want to wake them.  It took me a while to really invest in the book, but I read the last 200 pages in two days, so it definitely picked up.

I enjoyed the book, but don’t generally love historical fiction that covers the wars because I find them so sad.  Even though I know it’s fictional, it’s based on real events, so the descriptions of the refugee camps was hard to read and heartbreaking.  However, I did not know that Hong Kong had been part of the British empire so I learned a little bit and found the point of view to be very unique and interesting.

The book’s ending was a bit sad for me, and I found my anxiety to be heightened while reading the book.  One of the reasons I read it so quickly is that I seriously could not sleep well while reading.  I would get up 4-5 times a night to go check on all my babies to make sure they were sleeping soundly, and I had horrible dreams.  I have never had this happen while reading a book, but I think it’s all the hormones bouncing around my body.

In general though, I’m glad I read the book.  It was nice to take a break from reading a lot of non-fiction these past two months and I still learned a little bit!


5 books in May and I’m thrilled!  I used to be a huge bookworm through my time in Honduras, but working full time, marriage and then having a child majorly derailed that (not to mention the distraction that is social media + the internet).  The excitement to read is back and I couldn’t be happier.

Have you read any of these books? 

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