What I Read This Week

There are so many books I want to read right now, and I find that I haven’t had a lot of time for reading. Too much work and responsibilities. Anyone else feel that way? Even with that, I somehow finished five books this week. Crazy, right?

Yumi Chung is a 12-year-old girl who belongs to a family of immigrants. Her parents own a Korean restaurant, and she goes to a private academic-prep school. Her 20-year-old sister is in her first year of medical school. It is safe to say that Yumi’s parents are serious about their children’s education. However, Yumi has a dream, and that dream is to be a stand-up comedian. One day, she’s leaving a morning study class that her parents have signed her up for, and she stumbles into a new comedy club where the club is hosting a summer camp for children who are interested in stand-up comedy. Yumi finds herself sitting in on the camp, and then trying to figure out what to say to her parents about her day . . . .

This is a sweet and quick middle-grades read. I had heard the book mentioned on two different podcasts in the same week, and I knew that I had to pick it up and try it out. I initially tried to push it onto one of my daughters, and I still think they would like it even more than I did. However, I enjoyed this quick and fun read, especially since I saw more of the Asian immigrant mindset and why academics are so important to these parents.

The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found examines a small corner of history. The ship sunk in the waters off Cape Cod during a storm in 1717, and was not rediscovered until the 1980s. Sandler tells the history the ship, the pirate who was its captain, and the history of the excavation of the ship, as well as the meaning of the discovery. Each chapter also contains sidebars giving readers information about the topics of the chapter. These sidebars dispel many common myths about pirates that have crept into our cultural milieu.

I found myself completely pulled into this little corner of history and read this book over a 24-hour period. It’s a book aimed at teens, and my teenagers will be using it for a few weeks for history, and I expect them to find it just as engaging as I did. I did think it was a little irritating that several pages of sidebars came in the middle of the chapters, and I worry that my children, especially my 13-year-old, might find it to be a little confusing.

Sebastian Bell awakens in the woods with no memories, only knowing someone has been killed, and having the name Anna on his lips. He soon realizes that he is at an estate called Blackheath and odd things are going on. Is Anna dead? Who is he? Why is he at Blackheath? There are many puzzles to solve, and of course, there’s his missing memory. He encounters a strange figure in a plague doctor costume who begins to fill in some of the gaps, but can Sebastian trust him?

I’m trying to be as spoiler-free as I can be, but this is a hard book to talk about without giving out spoilers. Having said that, I really loved this book and considered it a fun puzzle. It is probably one of the best books I’ve read this year. If you like mysteries, and don’t mind a touch of sci-fi/supernatural, then you should really read this book.

Jonathan has heard that there are bears on Hemlock Mountain, but the adults in his life have told him that this idea is just “stuff and nonsense.” When his mother decides to send him on an errand that requires him going over Hemlock Mountain and back again, it takes all his courage to carry out the task. After all, there might be bears on Hemlock Mountain.

This is a fun little book that is really only a little more than a chapter book. I’ve read it multiple times because I read it to my older two children several times when they were younger. I’ve been going through my books, trying to figure out which children’s books I want to share with my younger two before they are too old to appreciate it. This was high on the list, so I shared it with them this week. It’s truly a charming read, and they were old enough to really talk about underlying themes of the book that I had not discovered on my last reading.

For those of us who have been to seminary, we have usually found it to be an illuminating, and sometimes overwhelming time. For those called to the pastoral ministry, many of the practical lessons of pastoring cannot be taught there. Teaching some of those practical things is the goal of 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me. They cover topics such as, what to do when you can’t get a job, how to teach your children to love a church, how to discern when to accept a ministry change, and how to deal with conflict.

As I’m not called to pastoral ministry, I am not the primary audience for this book. However, there were several points of wisdom that I gleaned. I especially needed the chapter on fighting for your faith. There’s nothing like being in ministry to kill one’s faith (but that’s another story). One thing I hated about this book was that each chapter gave advice in list or bullet point format. It made the book feel tiresome and overwhelming, kind of like a list of self-help articles.

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