Books: The New Year’s Resolution I Actually Care About

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I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. By this time of year, I’ve likely already forgotten them–unless they’re about books. I love making a yearly list of reading goals, adding to it, and crossing off books when I finish them. This year I had so much fun seeing the reading lists everyone made to include in the Reading Goals for 2014 link up.

But is anyone else already behind on their list? Yikes. I’m not hopelessly behind, but I need to step up my game (or stop adding books when I haven’t finished the ones on my list!).

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Time for a little update (and pretty please, share what you’ve been reading so far this year in the comments because I’m addicted to hearing what books are on other people’s night stands)!

So far I’ve read:

  • ✓ Deathbed Conversions: Finding Faith at the Finish Line by Karen Edmisten (I love Karen’s books and after reading this, I keep thinking about Lord Marchmain and the beauty of turning to Christ, even if it’s at the very end of life….don’t get me started on Brideshead or I’ll start to think it’s a good idea to add it to my list and read it yet again….wait…that IS a good idea…somebody slap me!)
  • ✓ Villette by Charlotte Bronte (I did end up liking this one, but I still think that chapter after chapter of anti-Catholic sentiment gets old. Lucy Snow and M. Emmanuel really are fascinating characters.)

I’m in the middle of…:

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (I tried to read this one last year in a month, while pregnant. Ha! After a month, I’m still only 175 pages in. It’s great, but PLODDING. I’m glad I’m familiar with the story after reading the abridged version and listening to the musical ten thousand times or else I would be saying “Why are you telling me about ANOTHER seemingly unrelated to the plot character, Victor?!  Why?!)
  • Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley (I’m almost done with this one and have to admit, it’s not everything I thought it would be. It has lots of good content, but I think it’s the style that really rubs me the wrong way. Did anyone else have a hard time with this one? It seems like everyone loves it and I’m the odd one out.)
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (re-read) (I don’t care what you say, I LOVE Fanny Price always and forever. Mostly listening to the audiobook read by Karen Savage.)

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Gwen obligingly fell asleep in the car while the big kids were at Grandma’s FORCING me to just sit there in the driveway and read a good chunk of Bread and Wine. Because it was best for the baby, of course. I’m only thinking of her.

This book makes me want to slow down and stir risotto with a glass of red wine to sip on. I’ve noticed that on my early mornings with Gwen (Daniel and I take turns with that 5am waking time) I’ve been more inspired to clear off the table, cook something delicious, and have it sitting there when the big kids wake up. Also, I’ve already tried three of the recipes from the book and my, oh my, they are a gluten-free household’s dream come true.

I enjoyed reading Christy’s take on this one, because I’ve had the same reaction…Shauna’s life isn’t my life right now. Maybe in ten years we’ll be the big dinner party couple again (Daniel and I love to throw dinner parties and had parties every week before parenthood) but right now we’re have-another-family-over-every-couple-of-weeks sort of people. We’re take food to a new mom sort of people right now. Not throw an awesome party sort of people. Mostly because most of our friends are only available between 5:30 and 7pm…hard to fit a dinner party in there. But I also agreed with Christy that so much of why I like Shauna’s take on food is because she’s adopted lots of Catholic sensibilities about the sacred meeting the mundane, hospitality, and community.

So, although she’s not necessarily saying anything new, she says it very well. I enjoy her writing style (it’s the perfect vacation book) and the book is a delight and I think I’ve drooled over most of the recipe pages.

Ok, your turn. What are you reading?

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    • Haley says

      Haha! You’re sweet, Jenny! Here’s my secret: take a thousand and then post the one in which I don’t look like a complete weirdo. Glad to hear it’s working for me 😉

        • Haley says

          Maybe because in the middle of sibling squabbles/screaming fits I’m too distracted to take photos? haha. On second thought, I guess those just aren’t moments I want to save forever. 😉

  1. Amanda Patten says

    The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur: The Woman Whose Goodness Changed her Husband from Atheist to Priest.

  2. Courtney says

    I am behind too….I didn’t have any select books, just a general goal to read more. I read 5 books in January, but only ONE in February. Yikes.
    I currently have bookmarks in: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hatbox Baby, and Care of Wooden Floors. I want to read of Ferrol Sams’ books this year so I also have a bookmark in Down Town. I get bored with one book and move to another and it’s got me in a mess :/ I am a beyond full-time student and so reading for school and collecting sources for a research paper has completely derailed me.

  3. says

    @Amanda: That book sounds fascinating! I’ve made note to look into it. 🙂

    I’m struggling with The Hunchback of Notre Dame (which I started nearly a YEAR ago). I may need to take notes because I get confused with foreign names (this will be just great when I get to Dostoevsky later…).

    I’m also reading St. Thérèse’s Story of a Soul since I never actually finished it (oops). It is such a joy: Thérèse has to be one of the sweetest of souls ever to exist.

    Thank you for your consistent reading lists, Haley. Your new year’s resolution has inspired mine. Read all the books! 😉

    • Haley says

      Somebody remind me that I HAVE to put Story of a Soul on my list for next year. I meant to this year but I forget everything these days…

  4. says

    I’ve been charging my way through the Battle of the Kids’ Books list: School Library Journal has a March Madness of children’s lit every year, and while I usually don’t love every book, there are always several that I’m really glad to be introduced to, that I wouldn’t have otherwise read. Flora & Ulysses, Midwinterblood, Boxers & Saints, and A Corner of White are favorites so far!

  5. Angela says

    Wonderful books! I’ve been wanting to read Bread & Wine for a bit. I think I will definitely have to add it now. On my nightstand is Mansfield Park; Boys Should Be Boys (Meg Meeker, MD); St. Gerard Majella – The Wonder-Worker and Patron of Expectant Mothers by Fr. Edward Sain-Omer (he is my patron for the year and I’m only NOW starting the book); Parenting with Grace and Pope Awesome and Other Stories. Though I do have to say a lot more of my reading at the moment is Homeschool research and Llama Llama Red Pyjama. Planning on starting the Narnia Series with my oldest but I think that might get to pushed to the April/May nightstand.

    • Haley says

      Parenting with Grace is another one I’ve been meaning to read (since I became a parent five years ago….oops) Yay Narnia!

  6. says

    I didn’t set time goals for my list but I am surprising myself by actually sticking to its contents.

    I started the year with Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey which was lovely!

    After being a little disappointed in Cranford, I moved onto Willa Cather novels and they have been extraordinary. I think that Death Comes For the Archbishop is one of the best novels that I have ever read, ever. I also read Shadows on the Rock which was excellent. I just finished One of Ours, which I did not start out liking but ended up loving. Cather is so versatile!

    I’m waiting for some more Cather books from the library and read Priestblock 25487 while sick in bed :-(. It was an extraordinary account of a priest in a concentration camp.

    Now I’m onto Lady Susan by Jane Austen which I have never read. Epistolary novels generally frustrate me but I should have expected this one to be wonderful!

    Spiritually, I am reading this book in preparation for total consecration to Mary and my husband and I are reading Story of A Family about St. Therese’s family together. I love both and reading Story of a Family has afforded us with great opportunity to discuss our own family life fruitfully.

    • Haley says

      You might like North and South better than Cranford. I think I actually like the miniseries of Cranford better than the book……please don’t tar and feather me, any Gaskell purists out there! 😉 Cranford is a little underwhelming although heart-warming. Maybe because I was expecting more of a novel and it’s more like little vignettes?

  7. Celia says

    Ah, I love Les Mis. Well, except for the terribly drawn-out description of Waterloo. I love 19th century French literature, but that section is painful.

    The book about deathbed conversions sounds interesting. I assume it’s the same one I heard about on the radio maybe last week. I’ll put that on my list, I think.

    I’m late to the party (and thankful I found your blog! hello!), but if you’ve not gotten through Dostoevsky yet I think he’s much easier to tackle than Hugo. The Brothers Karamazov is one of my favorite novels. I also highly (HIGHLY!) recommend Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita,” but only the translation with a black cat on a red cover. (Sorry, I can’t think of the translator right now.) It is fabulous. Which reminds me, I need to read it again.

    I’m in between books right now, but with Lent coming up I am hoping to tackle some of the Catholic “classics” and also maybe reread some of Tolkien’s stuff.

    • Haley says

      I’m not sure which translation I read, but I finished that one last year and did enjoy but still don’t feel like I “get” it. I wish I’d read it in college in a literature class! I’m looking forward to Dostoevsky 🙂

  8. Celia says

    Ah, sorry. I should have Googled the translation for “The Master and Margarita” before I posted. It was done by Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O’Connor.

  9. says

    Yay, I’m glad we’re thinking the same thing on this one. Mainly I don’t want anyone to loose her appreciation and love for hospitality because her style of entertaining seems unattainable. I know she didn’t mean it to be, but for most of us it’s unfathomable right now. We’re also people who host another family every couple weeks kinda people and because we live so far away from everyone we usually make a big fancy brunch so people an come early and stay awhile while kids can play all day and this has worked really well for us and, I hope, our guests. But it is thinking outside the narrow “dinner party” box that we seem to think is standard which isn’t. I could go on all day. And the recipes I’ve tried of hers have been so easy and tasty!


  10. Emily says

    I read Consoling the Heart of Jesus and was in shock after ever section because it was all so new to me. I also read it very slowly with a bible study group. We would read a section, go in front of the Blessed Sacrament to pray about it for 30 min. and then went back and discussed. Meditating so thoughtfully and then discussing really helped me absorb everything. Maybe it was so life changing for me because of how we read it? Or maybe because I still feel very new at going deeper with Jesus. I’m not sure I could just sit down and whip through it. Just a thought!!!

  11. Mary says

    I’m about half way through I book I spotted at the library and grabbed on a whim. It’s called Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books by William Kuhn. Jackie Kennedy Onassis never wrote her own memoir, but she did work as an editor at Viking and Doubleday for almost 2 decades. It’s remarkable how much she reveals about herself through the books that she commissioned and edited! I’ve never really been interested in the Kennedys before, but it’s definitely an interesting read.

    My husband and I went to a party with some friends last night where the party favor was to pick a Catholic book from the huge pile the hosts had stacked up for perusing (best favor ever!!!). We walked away with C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and Scott Hahn’s The Lamb’s Supper. I’m guessing that I won’t be needing to make any trips to the library for a while, haha.

  12. says

    I am hopelessly behind. I may have made an overly aggressive list. I posted my goals in the link-up and made an update just a few days ago.
    Right now I am reading The Rosary: The Prayer That Saved My Life by Immaculee Ilibagiza. It is phenomenal so far.

  13. Colleen says

    I haven’t commented here before, but I love reading your blog (it’s one of my favorites), and I am so pleased that you also love Mansfield Park and Fanny Price. I think it’s Austen’s most profound novel–that and Persuasion. I’m actually writing a chapter on MP in my dissertation (I’m a doctoral student studying nineteenth century British literature). Totally agree with you about Vilette, too. Have you read George Eliot’s Middlemarch? I’m currently re-reading that for a class I’m teaching, and it is such a delight!

    • Haley says

      Thank you, Colleen! That is so kind.

      I haven’t read Middlemarch! I want to!

      How fun to be writing about MP for your dissertation! It’s just so good.

  14. Alexandra Foley says

    I finished “consoling the heart of Jesus” a while back and all I can say is that it has changed my life and the lives of those around me. I know that the style at times can sound a little condescending, but even this has been spiritually beneficial for me. My family is now doing the Marian Consecration of his (St Monfort’s) called “33 days of morning glory”and we love it.

    Even Mike, who as you know has very high standards, is really loving Fr. Gaitley’s explanations and style. I think he has a real gift of communication .

    • Haley says

      I’m reading True Devotion to Mary next and planning to read the other titles Fr. Gaitley recommends. I DO think reading it was beneficial but his style was an obstacle to his message for me, if that makes sense.

  15. says

    YAY books! I recently finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home and loved it (it’s kind of on the YA side of things, so maybe not your cup of tea) and I’m currently listening to The Book Thief and The Thirteenth Tale thanks to a free trial of Audible. I used to vehemently despise audiobooks but they’re really growing on me, especially after listening to every Jane Austen novel on

    I really enjoy Karen Savage’s readings, but Elizabeth Klett is my absolute favorite. Her reading of Mansfield Park (I’m a Fanny fan, too!) and Northanger Abbey had me looking up her other work. I’m pretty sure she does all of Jane Austen on librivox but I’m not sure.
    I’m planning to read “Signs of LIfe” for Lent, inspired by you and Daniel and your list of books that impacted your conversion. 40 chapters in 40 days sounds perfectly doable, yes?

      • says

        I think that’s what I loved most about the book. It showed all these different kinds of love and how sometimes we get them mixed up and go looking for different types of love to fill holes that one or another kind of love can’t fill.

  16. says

    Definitely behind on my list over here too. (Not necessarily on actual reading, just having a hard time sticking to what I actually listed…..)
    I read Fr. Gaitley’s book: 33 Days to Morning Glory, and the same thing you mentioned, the content was great, but the style was a little…. ummm….. laid back? Which almost didn’t feel appropriate for the content of the book. I haven’t read Consoling the Heart of Jesus.

    Currently working my way through Mansfield Park, the first Anne book (both actually on “The List”), plus Set Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman’s Guide to Forgiveness – by Genevieve Kineke (recommended at a ladies group at Church) – not sure my thoughts on that one just yet, it’s a little dense so I’m having a hard time focusing.

  17. says

    Definitely behind on my list over here too. (Not necessarily on actual reading, just having a hard time sticking to what I actually listed…..)
    I read Fr. Gaitley’s book: 33 Days to Morning Glory, and the same thing you mentioned, the content was great, but the style was a little…. ummm….. laid back? Which almost didn’t feel appropriate for the content of the book. I haven’t read Consoling the Heart of Jesus.

    Currently working my way through Mansfield Park, the first Anne book (both actually on “The List”), plus Set Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman’s Guide to Forgiveness – by Genevieve Kineke (recommended at a ladies group at Church) – not sure my thoughts on that one just yet, it’s a little dense so I’m having a hard time focusing.

  18. says

    I’m currently reading “Sarah, Plain and Tall” because I saw it at a library book sale and thought, “Hey, that’s short enough that I might actually finish it!”

    I have more lofty goals that this will be the year I finally read “The Children of Hurin.” I love Tolkien, but I’ve been putting that off because I know it will be depressing just based on the short version in the Silmarillion.

    Ironically, what takes me away from reading books is time spent promoting my own self-published books. I’m like, “I DON’T HAVE TIME TO READ! READ MY BOOK!”

  19. says

    I’m totally with you on Fr. Gaitley’s style. I just did the consecration to Jesus through Mary using his “33 Days to Morning Glory” which so many of my friends raved about. I would describe it as “spirituality lite” and found it cheesy at times. I definitely won’t be reading his stuff in the future, but I’m glad other people find it so helpful!

    Isn’t Karen Savage the best narrator on Librivox?? I pretty much only listen to books narrated by her and am actually re-listening to Sense and sensibility right now. She also narrates some of the Scarlet Pimpernel books which are SO much fun. I’ve listened to The Scarlet Pimpernel, El Dorado, and The Elusive Pimpernel and am now reading Lord Tony’s Wife. They’re great fun.

    I’m also working my way through Introduction to Christianity (Ratzinger), which is blowing my mind in the best way, and The Priority of Christ (Barron), which is a fantastic complement to The Unintended Reformation (Gregory) , which I read last year.

    This Lent, I’m hoping to tackle Charity: The Place of the Poor in the Biblical Tradition (Gary Anderson), Holy Daring (a book about St Therese–my best friend swears that this book changed her life), The Love that Made Mother Teresa (David Scott), and Behold, the Pierced One (Ratzinger). I’m giving up TV and spring break is coming up so I should be able to find plenty of time for these. 🙂

    You’re right about Les Mis: it’s a chore to get through at times, but it really is worth it in the end.

    Happy Sunday, Haley!

    • Haley says

      Ah! All those books sound so great! And I’m glad I’m not the only one that didn’t click with Fr. Gaitley’s style.

  20. says

    I just finished a comedy binge: Bossypants, Dad is Fat, and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

    I’ve been army crawling through Atlas Shrugged since the twins were born last summer and I’m throwing myself a mini-party when I finish the awful thing.

    As far as spiritual reading goes, I’m more than halfway through The Screwtape Letters and I’m slowly, very slowly, making my way through The Devout Life.

    Today, I put about ten more books on hold, including some of the books I spotted in your stack and have meant to get to.

    Love your blog!!

    • Haley says

      You’re a better woman than I! I haven’t even tried Atlas Shrugged, haha.

      I loved Dad is Fat and I want to read Bossypants and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me.

      And thank you! 🙂

  21. says

    Ah! I’m so glad that i’m not the only one who feels so behind. I finished Bread & Wine and LOVED it. It was just what I needed and whereas I agree and I’m so not in the big dinner party stage of life, it really called me to re-examine how hospitable I’ve been lately.

    I’m halfway through From Your Garden to Your Family and cannot wait to finish it! I hope to start Housewife Theologian soon and I’ve been searching for something Austen to read. Mansfield Park actually caught my eye, but I still haven’t landed on anything since I’m completely new to her work.

    • Haley says

      I’m glad you’re enjoying Steph’s book!

      I adore Mansfield Park, but I wouldn’t recommend starting with it. I’d say Pride and Prejudice or Emma to start with! 🙂

  22. Meghan says

    I just finished reading The Cruelest Miles (about the diphtheria epidemic in Alaska and the dogsled relay to deliver the antitoxin), The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Unspoken, and I’ve been working my way through the Books of Bayern series

    I’m currently working on Quiet, The Alchemist graphic novel, The Game of Thrones, and re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

  23. says

    Currently reading “Wild Strawberries” by Angela Thirkell. It’s a book from the 30s about life in a big English country house … very light and understated and wryly funny and a good help for my “Downton Abbey” withdrawal.

  24. says

    I’m super far behind on my blog reading which is why I’m a few days late on this… but I’m actually doing okay on my reading list!

    – Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi (I also re-read the first 2 books of the trilogy)
    – To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim’s Journey to Santiago de Compostela by Kevin A. Codd
    – Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
    – Pope Awesome and Other Stories by Cari Donaldson

    Currently reading:
    – A Hidden Magic by Vivian Vande Velde
    – The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
    (both of these are quick and easy and fun reads, so I’ll be crossing them off pretty soon)

    Still working on these chronic, read-a-little-a-day-for-the-whole-year books:
    – The Catechism of the Catholic Church (okay, I am kind of behind on the Catechism)
    – A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey

  25. Ashley says

    I wasn’t a big fan of Consoling the Heart of Jesus either, but I was still able to take away a few things. I plan on reading his Marian Consecration book later this year.

    I just finished reading The Happiness Project and Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. Before that was Simcha’s NFP book which I loved. Right now I’m reading Seven by Jen Hatmaker, which isn’t quite what I was expecting based on other people’s reviews.

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