Tag Archives: A. J. Jacobs

WWW Wednesday, 2-May-2018

2 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m still moving forward at a fair pace in An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. It’s fun for me but I think it started off with some large stretches of the imagination so it’s hard for me to enjoy it even though the rest has been really great.
So many new books now! I did start Mister Monkey by Francine Prose like I’d hoped to. The preface threw me off a lot and I’m still deciding how I felt about the book. It’s a lot different from the premise and I think I’ll like it. I’ll have a much better idea next week.
I also got my copy of What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins through inter-library loan. It came in just as I was about to finish my previous book so it’s beyond perfect! It’s a bit shorter than I thought so I’m being hopeful that I can power through this one and keep scaling Mt. TBR!
I grabbed a copy of The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne on CD at the library. I got this book at an awesome bookstore in Cincinnati a few years ago and I’m excited to finally enjoy it!

Recently finished: So many to report! The end of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah had me crying while I was working out and it made push-ups a lot harder! I enjoyed the book a lot and posted my review of it yesterday. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.
I finished Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs Friday. I flew through it and loved every minute. Jacobs is one of my favorite writers. I have only one of his books still to read and I want to get to it right away, but he doesn’t publish very often so I also want to pace myself. I’ll have a review up tomorrow and I’m excited to gush about this book.
I also finished The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. I had to pick my husband up late Friday night and I finished it waiting for him in the car. I think him being out of town for the week helped me finish so many books this week! I’ll post a review sometime next week.

Reading Next: Being at the beginning of so many, it seems a bit presumptuous to put anything here. However, my book club met on Monday and our next selection is The Sellout by Paul Beatty. My other book club read this when I thought I was going to be out of town so I missed it. I’m excited to get another chance at this book! I’m curious about a Man Booker winner from America!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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WWW Wednesday, 25-April-2018

25 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: Lots of driving for work and the emergence of spring means that I’ve made significant progress on The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. The book’s really good and I found myself moved near to tears at one point (no, I wasn’t chopping onions). I know the big question is if the older woman in the 1990s timeline is one of the sisters or not and I keep changing my guess. Please, no one tell me!
I’m getting there on The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s still slow for me. This part of the book has been jumping around in time and character and I’m not enjoying it at all. I often find myself confused about who’s talking and if it’s in the timeline or a flashback. I’ll be glad to finish this one.
I’ve made some fair progress on An Abundance of Katherines by John Green but not too much. It’s enjoyable still but not sucking me in yet. John Green tends to suck me in late so I’m waiting for it.
I was able to start Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs and I’m already over half way through it. I adore Jacobs’ writing voice and I’m also a big fan of all the health tips and tricks I’m picking up along the way! I bet this one is off this list by next week. Seriously.

Recently finished: I finally finished Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling! It was great to finish this one up after so long at it. There’s my Spanish book for the year. Phew. I posted my review of the book yesterday so please check that out when you get a minute. It’s not my traditional review, but I’m guessing if you wanted to read it, you probably have by now. Or at least saw the movie. Either way, you likely know the plot by now and I’m not going to say anything new original that you haven’t heard or thought before. It’s pretty much me gushing, I’ll be honest. Oh well.

Reading Next: I hope to finally start Mister Monkey by Francine Prose soon. I’m getting close to the end of Nightingale so it shouldn’t be far off. I still have no idea what this book is about, but I’m looking forward to finding out!
In my efforts to tackle Mt. TBR, I’ve requested an inter-library loan of the book currently sitting on the top, What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins. It’s a collection of letters and life advice from successful women in various fields. I think it will be a good pick-me-up as I struggle through finals and get ready to head into an accelerated summer class. At least I hope it is.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-April-2018

18 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m. So. Close! I’m on the last chapter of Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling but my week has been just nuts and I haven’t had a lot of time to read it at night. I swear I’ll get to it by next week, promise!
The Midwestern weather has been terrible so I haven’t done much running and thus not much listening to The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’m still enjoying the story and hoping something radical happens so I can see why people loved this one more than other WWII fiction. I’m still a bit neutral on it.
To be honest, I’m not enjoying The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro much at all. I know his books keep something hidden from the reader, but I’m lost and confused at this point and I’d really like a clue as to where this one is going. Maybe it will recover, but I’m not counting on it. I’m just trying to finish this one.
I haven’t gotten through much of An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. It’s a rather short book so it shouldn’t take too much longer but I haven’t had lunches to read during. My crazy week involves work and working through lunch. Yuck.

Recently finished: I’m sad to say I have none to report! With two wrapping up last week, it’s not a huge surprise. I’m feeling good about having some for next week, though. Positive thoughts.

I was able to post one review for The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. It went up last Thursday and I gave the book 4 out of 5 Stars.

Reading Next: I’ll start Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs as soon as I finish Potter. I’m looking forward to a fun read!
Once I finish The Nightingale, I have another book club pick to enjoy as an audiobook. The next one is Mister Monkey by Francine Prose. I know nothing about this one and I’m excited to go into it blind! That’s honestly my favorite way to enjoy a book.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-April-2018

11 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: Slow going but I’m still making my way through the end of Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling. I’m at Snape’s flashbacks now so not too much more to go!
I’m still enjoying The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah though nothing has happened that’s particularly stuck out to me yet. I’m hoping something unique happens so I can keep this one separate from other WWII books in my head, but it’s still reminding me a lot of Sarah’s Key.
I’m still a little wary of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s a lot more fictionalized than I’d planned on reading and I’m losing focus from time to time. I hope to power through this one because I don’t think it’s going to be a favorite.
I started An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. I have to say, so far this is my least favorite Green book. It still has plenty of time to win me over, but so far, I’m not impressed. I hope this will be a quick one and I won’t be reading it forever, as is my ebook custom.

Recently finished: I powered through and finished The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp on Friday. It picked up and got me interested really quickly so I was reading it on my phone every free second I had. When I had twenty minutes to finish it, I pulled the paper book off my shelf and read the last three chapters like that. It’s refreshing to read YA when you haven’t in a long time!

A few reviews that I’ve caught up on, too! First is The Circle by Dave Eggers which I posted Monday. I enjoyed the book and I’ve since watched the movie so I’ll have some opinions on that coming soon. I gave it 4 out of 5 Stars.
The second one is History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. My book club met to talk about this Monday so I’ll have a book club reflection coming your way soon, too! Look for it next week (probably). I gave this 4 out of 5 Stars as well. That’s been a pretty common rating for me lately. I guess that’s a good sign!

Reading Next: I’ve still got Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs lined up as my next physical read. I keep hoping I’ll finish up Potter and pick this up, but it’s taking me just a bit longer than anticipated. I forgot how slow I read in Spanish!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-April-2018

4 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’ve started back up with Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling. and I’m so excited to read about the Battle of Hogwarts! I think this one will be wrapped up soon.
I’ve just started back up with The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp so I hope I can get some momentum going on this one and wrap it up in a few weeks!
I’m enjoying The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah but it has yet to stand out to me as a unique WWII book. I’ve read so many in the past few years that I was afraid this would happen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a surprising development.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro is going okay. I wasn’t expecting this to be as magical and as strongly metaphorical as it is. I’m not sure I’m enjoying it as much as Ishiguro’s other books but that’s a high standard to meet.

Recently finished: Two finished and it feels so good! The first was The Circle by Dave Eggers which I stayed up late Thursday to finish. I was expecting the end, so that didn’t blow me away, but it made me think to be sure. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars and I’ll be posting a review next week.
I finished History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund on Friday and, again, the ending wasn’t what I was anticipating. I thought it was going to be a little more sinister than it ended up being. I have a lot of thoughts on this topic so it will make for a good book review and a good discussion group.

I posted my review of Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire yesterday so please check it out if you can. I gave it 1 out of 5 Stars, which I believe is my lowest rating on this blog.

Reading Next: I’m already looking forward to Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs. I hope to finish Potter quickly so I can get started on this fun read!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 28-March-2018

28 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m still on hold with Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling but not for much longer! I’m speeding through my other books and I think I’ll be back to this one next week.
I’m much further into The Circle by Dave Eggers than I’d thought! I pulled out my physical copy to see and I’m in the last third of it for sure. I’ve been making an effort to pull it out more often in the past week and I think I can wrap it up pretty soon.
Still holding on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp though I think I’ll start again soon!
I’m loving History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. It’s creepy enough to keep me reading but not so much that I’m afraid to read it before bed. The perfect mix. This will be a fun one to discuss.
As much as I complain about being in the middle of two books, I’ve started two more. The first is, as expected, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I started it during my long run on Sunday and got through a fair chunk. I’m really looking forward to seeing why so many of you loved this book!
The second is an audiobook for the car and this time around it’s The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is available as a CD audio so I’m starting it in the car. I heard Ishiguro read a chapter from it a while back and I know it’s going to be a bit more fantastical than I’m used to with him, but we’ll see how this goes.

Recently finished: The tidal wave is starting and I finished two books! The first was, as expected, Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. I took a homework break on Friday and finished up the last 20 minutes. I adored this book and I posted my review yesterday if you want to check it out. I gave it 5 out of 5 Stars.
The second was Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire which I finished Sunday. I honestly couldn’t wait for this book to be over. It wasn’t what I expected and I found the plot meandering and without a focus. I got sick of the politics because I wasn’t invested in the characters. I think it’s safe to say I’m done with this series.

Reading Next: It seems strange to think of more books to read with so many going already! I guess I’ll need a physical book next and it’s time for me to start chipping at the physical TBR in my living room. The next one there will be Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs. I adore Jacobs and consider him one of my favorite non-fiction writers. I found this book at a B&N sale a few years ago and I’m sad I haven’t read it sooner!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

My Favorite Authors Across Genres

27 Nov

Asking a reader who their favorite author is usually feels like picking a favorite child (I’m assuming, I have no children, this is what I’ve been told). So, instead, I’ll tell you about my favorite authors for each genre that I read, long one or two runners-up who are worthy of mention.

This list is a bit short. I realized I’m not much of a repeat-reader as far as reading multiple books from an author. Unless it’s a series, which you’ll see a bit below. I like variety, some say it’s the spice of life.

Action: Steig Larsson

Contemporary Fiction: Khaled Hosseini

General Fiction: John Irving

Historical Fiction: Phillipa Gregory
Honorable Mention: Tracy Chevalier

Non-Fiction: A.J. Jacobs

Young Adult: J.K. Rowling (are you really surprised?)
Honorable Mention: S.E. Hinton

If I have to pick overall, I usually say John Irving. He gets a little repetitive if you read him a lot, but I love his storytelling style.

Who are your favorite writers? What other genres would you have chosen? Anyone I should read? Leave a comment and let me know!

Until next time, write on.

Book Review: Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler

18 Oct

This is yet another book I never would have picked up if it weren’t for the wonder of book clubs.  I’ve decided to drop out of this one, however, so I can spend more time working on the ever-growing To-Read list.  I’ll read one more book for it in December, but that will be it.  This being said, I’ll be doing a book club review of this book in two weeks so if this review piques your interest, go grab a copy and come join the conversation in two weeks!

In addition, Fieler will be speaking in my area at the end of October and I’ll be writing up a summary of what he says about writing as well as picking up a signed copy of one of his books.  I’m a sucker for autographed books.

Book Cover from Goodreads

Book Cover from Goodreads

Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses by Bruce Feiler

Bruce Feiler reminds me of one of my favorite authors, A. J. Jacobs because of his immersion journalism and a style that makes it flow without bogging the reader down in minutia.  This book has been turned in to a series on PBS and this book is considered the companion it is based off of.  I haven’t seen the show, but I doubt it could live up to the imagery of the book.

I hope potential readers will not be turned off to this book from it’s title.  I will admit I am a religious person (practicing Catholic) and it’s hard to deny that the Bible is a central character in Feiler’s book.  However, what really fascinated me was the science and archeology behind the book.  The dating of small burial huts to before the time of the Israelites was fascinating.  If you’re interested in ancient history, this book will interest you for that reason.

Feiler himself is Jewish and grew up in a Jewish household without ever attaching himself to the Jewish Bible.  When visiting Jerusalem, he was shocked by being able to see the physical locations where so many stories from the Bible take place.  That experience inspired him to take the journey through the five books of Moses.

Feiler and his guide, Avner, travel through Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and other lands of the Near East that I can’t recall.  They visit as many confirmed biblical locations as possible and some suspected sites.  Along the way, they will read aloud the passages of the Bible applicable to that place.  Feiler comes to find an appreciation of the desert and his faith grows stronger within himself.

Feiler’s talent for detail and imagery made this book worth reading every word.  I felt like I was in the desert on a camel with him.  I could see myself walking deeper and deeper into the pyramids of Egypt.  His description of Petra had me renewing my vow to see it before I die.  And throughout the text, I was able to renew my faith in the Old Testament.  Giving the stories a physical location makes them seem even more real.  Hearing the archaeology behind the sites and locations made me feel like I could reach out and touch them.

Making the Bible tangible was part of Felier’s motive.  I spoke with a woman who has heard him talk before and he was given a large advance from his publisher to make this book happen.  (My jealousy starts now.)  This was a dream Feiler had and he was lucky enough t have the resources to make it happen.  Through the process, he was able to make it real for me as well.

One of the biggest questions that Feiler explores is this, “If these places existed, does that make the Bible true?  If they didn’t exist, does that mean the Bible is lies?”  The analogy used is from “an archaeologist I met in Jerusalem who said to me, ‘you know, Americans seem to think if you can prove that two screws existed, you prove the entire machine existed'” (taken from an Interview found on PBS).  Feiler feels this pull of reasoning a few times through his journey.  If someone has the remains of Noah’s Ark, the floods happened.  If soil evidence of the period shows no record of being underwater, it didn’t happen.  It’s black or white, no grey in between.  The one point where Feiler starts to feel that not everything will be proven with science is while wondering the desert, trying to figure out if God could have sent quail to the wondering Israelites.  This is evidence of large numbers of quail falling to the desert as they are off of the migratory path, but the area where they fall is outside the area where the Israelites were traveling.  It would have taken divine intervention to push the quail off of their course to feed the 600,000 people.  There’s the science and the divine and Feiler is able to combine the two for the first time.

This book really resounded with me.  I realized I didn’t know as much about the Old Testament as I should and this was a very modern refresher course.  I liked Feiler’s approach and I found the text easy to relate to.  For anyone who thinks their OT knowledge is lacking, I highly recommend Feiler.

Writers Takeaway: I don’t know if I’ll ever write non-fiction, but if I ever do I want it to sound like Feiler’s.  As I said before, his does a great job of taking the reader along with him on his journeys.  I would compare this book to A.J. Jacobs, Laura Hillenbrand, or Erik Lawson for its ability to read almost as fiction while at the same time presenting facts.  Very well done.

Recommended for anyone remotely interested in religion or archaeology.  Four out of five stars.