Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else


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2019 Reading Challenge

Every year I set a goal of how many books I want to read and my 2019 goal was 34 books. I ride the train to work almost every day so I have a lot of time to read. Add in a number of trips taken this year, both driving and flying, and it was a good year for reading!

I ended up reading 46 books! 6 nonfiction and 40 fiction, which was a good mix for me. I prefer fiction but I make a point to throw in some nonfiction throughout the year. I read some great books this year and love the stats that Goodreads gives you for your year of reading (extra nerd? yep). Here are some of my favorite books from this year and the lovely stats. Now to just set my goal to start a new decade!


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The Library Book

I should start reading the synopsis of books from popular lists that have been on my ‘to read’ list before I start reading them. Or just check my friend Kate’s reviews. What’s on the popular list is not always for everyone.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean was not the worst book I’ve ever read but it was a little dry. Central Library in Los Angles, CA suffered from a massive fire in 1986. This is what most of the synopsis talks about but definitely not what most of the book was about. It gives a long history about libraries and the LA library system and covers the in and outs of libraries in general. It was interesting at times – I learned more about libraries than I ever thought I would know. But it dragged on. And on. And on. The case and investigation about the fire were interspersed throughout but even that story line alone was a little disappointing.

If you’re really into libraries or the LA library in particular, you’ll probably enjoy this book. Otherwise, I’m not really sure you’ll enjoy it. Happy holidays and look for my year of books review coming soon!


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Love and Respect

We love our small group through Buckhead Church and believe in the importance of community. It’s especially great to have other newly married couples in our lives as well as leaders who have been in our shoes. In the year and a half that we’ve been together, we’ve done various studies and books and we just finished Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

Most of group had heard of this book and some had it already but hadn’t read it. My husband and I had never heard of it (though I was corrected by my sister-in-law that she told me about it 5 years ago – but I wasn’t married 5 years ago so that apparently went in one ear and out the other).

Overall, we enjoyed the book. The gist is that women crave love, while men crave respect. Obviously it’s never as black and white as it seems, but overall we agree with the book. Dr. Eggerichs goes through the ways that how, as husbands and wives, we do not show love or respect for our spouse, as well as ways to show love and respect to your spouse. I know when I put it this simply it seems very easy. But the book brought up ideas that I had never thought about before and it brought out some great conversation both within our group as well as between my husband and I.

I will say that there were times when the suggestions or topics felt a little out-dated. But again, overall the message was one that was good, that applied to our relationship within our marriage, and that we learned from.


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Educated

As I’ve alluded to in my last few book posts, I was in need of a romance break. I had heard Educated by Tara Westover was good and I knew it was a memoir, but hadn’t really paid attention to what it was about. What is was was fascinating.

The memoir is all about Westover’s family, upbringing, and her journey to where she is today. And it was an incredible journey. She is completely self-educated, as in she never attended a formal school until college. Her family is very conservative and her parents are self-sufficient and un-trusting of the government or any kind of organized system (hospitals, schools, etc.). Her father is likely bi-polar. They worked a scrapyard to earn money among other various jobs and her many siblings took different journeys once reaching adulthood.

The memoir is essentially a number of short stories meant (I think) to portray the different people in Westover’s family and show the general trajectory of Westover’s life. A life that dealt with mental illness, mental abuse, physical abuse, family estrangement, all along with the personal desire for more and something different. Reading it, I imagined her childhood taking place in the late ’70s or early ’80s but Westover is just slightly younger than me (born in 1986). That blew me away. I cannot imagine having to choose between your family and what you know is right; choosing between your family and what is safe.

The stories felt a little disjointed at times but overall it came together and was a fascinating read. Enjoy!

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You and Me Forever

We are part of a married small group through Buckhead Church. We really enjoy being able to spend time with other married couples who are in a similar stage in life – and we all are because we’ve all been married less than a year – and have great leaders who are a little further along in their experience. We’ve done various studies and recently finished You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan.

If you’re not familiar with Francis Chan, he is a very “real” writer and speaker. He will tell you how it is and doesn’t sugarcoat things. The main premise of this book is that by making things right with God and striving for a life Jesus would be proud of, you will also have the benefit of a meaningful and fulfilling marriage. Now we all know no one can actually accomplish a life anywhere near to that of Jesus. But that is the goal. It was hard to read and think about the fact that in heaven, you won’t have a husband or wife. That we should be anxiously awaiting the day that Jesus returns and have no problem with that happening tomorrow regardless of what you still want to do or accomplish here on Earth. But that should be the ultimate desire of Christians.

There were videos to go with each chapter which I always like and each chapter had parts written by both Francis and Lisa. It did feel repetitive at times, which made it drag on a little bit. But it triggered some great discussion in our group as well as at home. And it’s good for newlyweds and for couples who have been married a while. It even has a chapter on parenting!


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Becoming

This is not a political post, so please don’t comment with anything political. Don’t worry, I have political views and opinions but I prefer to not open that can of worms on my blog. I enjoy reading about people and people’s lives. Everyone experiences life in such different ways, which is what makes us human and the world an amazing place.

Becoming, on the whole, a political book. This is about a woman who started out like so many and eventually found herself in a place that so few had been. Michelle Obama grew up without much in the way of money or material things but worked hard to earn an ivy league education (multiple degrees) and get a great job as an attorney. I enjoyed learning that she struggled to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, even well after finishing school. But she strived to find something that would be fulfilling and also make a difference, as many people strive to do.

This is about a woman who loves her husband. Even as a senator’s wife, she never wanted a life of politics, but she put her own wants aside and put her husband’s first. That is true love – each spouse putting the other first. She dealt with the same struggles that new mothers deal with every day, especially in our country, feeling the tug between career and home.

She goes to write, obviously, about their campaign for the presidency and life in the White House. About how she used her position to address issues that were (are) important: childhood obesity, access to education, and supporting military families. I recommend this book not because of the Obama’s politics or because their eight years in office were perfect, but because Michelle Obama is an inspiring woman who has accomplished much. And although I cannot imagine or relate to many of the trials she faced or issues that caused her anxiety, I wholeheartedly agree with this quote from the book.

“So many of us go through life with our stories hidden, feeling ashamed or afraid when our whole truth doesn’t live up to some established ideal. We grow up with messages that tell us that there’s only one way to be American – that if our skin is dark or our hips are wide, if we don’t experience love in a particular way, if we speak another language or come from another country, then we don’t belong. That is, until someone dares to start telling that story differently.”

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Daring Greatly

I love Brené Brown and have read a number of her books, which you can find on my book listDaring Greatly is supposed to be one of her best books and it’s been on my list for a while. Her research is around shame and vulnerability and how they invade every area of our lives – work, family, social life. The greatest thing she does is use this research to make concepts and ideas applicable to anyone’s life. And she doesn’t pretend to be perfect or to have all the answers.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.”

I can tell you, from personal experience, that being vulnerable is one of the hardest things to do but can have the greatest rewards. Obviously you are not going to be completely open and vulnerable with every single person in your life, but when I am completely vulnerable with those closest to me, the relationship flourishes. I went through college with only a couple friends knowing that I went for infusions at the hospital every 1-2 weeks to treat a chronic blood disorder. To me, this difference was a negative thing and one that would make me weird. But years later, when I opened up about that aspect of my life publicly, the response was overwhelmingly positive. And thinking back, I was silly to think it would be otherwise.

I definitely recommend this book to everyone. It’s a quick read. I will say that Brown can be a little repetitive, and the section on parenting doesn’t apply to my, but I still skimmed through it. Great read for anyone who is in relationships with others – friends, family, romantic, whatever!

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